Voluntary Benefits Help Simplify Employees’ Lives

Workers juggling both career and family may feel like their “to do” list is out of control. Work that extra hour, hit the gym, pick up kids and see to dinner, chores and homework all before bedtime. In this whirl of activity, it’s no wonder that working Americans expect their employers to help them simplify their lives by offering voluntary benefits as part of an overall employee benefits program.

According to a recent survey from WellPoint, nine out of ten Americans believe companies that offer a full range of benefits help them simplify and secure their lives. The survey compares employed Americans’ knowledge and attitudes toward voluntary benefits from 2010 with those of employed Americans today.

According to Wellpoint, employees continue to favor companies that offer voluntary benefits with 90 percent of Americans agreeing that voluntary benefits are a good tool to help companies balance the needs of their employees while dealing with tightening budgets. Similar to 2010 findings, saving money and offering protection for the employee and his or her family were cited as the most popular reasons for choosing to purchase a company’s voluntary benefits.

Voluntary benefits, which are traditionally paid for by the employee through payroll deductions, range from life insurance benefits, short-term and long-term disability, vision and dental care to pet care, legal plans and discount health and lifestyle benefits.

“Offering voluntary benefits is a cost-efficient way to support employees both personally and professionally,” said Bill Smith, president of WellPoint’s Disability, Life and Voluntary business. “Employees report that they are more productive at work and they think more highly of their company, if it offers a range of benefits, including voluntary benefits.”

More education needed. While two thirds of employees report that they are satisfied with their employers’ benefit offerings, this represents a small drop in satisfaction compared to 2010 when 73 percent registered their satisfaction with their current benefits package.

The survey also flagged that companies can do more to help their employees understand their benefit options. Only half of workers surveyed in 2010 and 2012 reported being knowledgeable about voluntary benefits. And, employees in small companies are less knowledgeable about voluntary benefits than employees at medium and large size companies (small, 47 percent; medium, 60 percent; large, 58 percent).

Education about voluntary benefits is important since Americans spend little time on their own researching benefit options. Nearly half of employees (48 percent) in 2012 said they spend less than one hour researching their options before deciding on enrollment benefits, with 26 percent spending less than 30 minutes. Only 8 percent of employees report spending five hours or more on research before deciding on their enrollment benefits.

For more information, visit http://www.wellpoint.com.

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