The percentage of U.S. employers offering new or additional voluntary benefits increased by 41 per cent during the 2022 enrolment period, according to a new survey by Aon.

The survey attributed this growth to employers’ talent retention and attraction strategies, as well as employee demand for supplemental health insurance products during the coronavirus pandemic.

The percentage of workers eligible for these benefits increased by 16 per cent and employee registration grew in more than half of the top 10 most popular voluntary benefits. These include critical illness coverage (27 per cent in 2022 versus 16 per cent in 2021), accident coverage (23 per cent versus 13 per cent), hospital indemnity (16 per cent versus 10 per cent), permanent life insurance (15 per cent versus 10 per cent) and student loan assistance (12 per cent versus eight per cent).

Read: An employer’s guide to curating a suite of voluntary benefits

“During the last two years, it seems every employee knows someone who was hospitalized or fell gravely ill from COVID-19,” said Dani McCauley, U.S. customer experience leader for consumer benefit solutions at Aon, in a press release. “Public health officials continue to emphasize stretched hospital capacity throughout the pandemic. As a result, there is an increased awareness of risks around hospitalization and critical illness and, along with the growth of high deductible health plans, employees are keen to hedge against this potential cost burden.”