Nearly all American employees believe that voluntary work benefits help them simplify and secure their increasingly complex and unpredictable lives, according to a survey.

Ninety percent of Americans see voluntary benefits as a good way for companies to balance the needs of their employees within shrinking budgets, according to a survey by WellPoint, one of the largest health benefits companies in the United States.

The main reasons employees choose to buy voluntary benefits are saving money and protecting themselves and their families, according to the study.

Voluntary benefits include a wide range of options: life insurance, short- and long-term disability, vision and dental care, pet health benefits, legal plans, as well as discount health and lifestyle benefits. The employee typically pays for these through payroll deductions.

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

While Americans embrace voluntary benefits, only half of employees surveyed by WellPoint in 2010 and 2012 report being knowledgeable about them.

The study reveals that employees in small companies are less informed than those in bigger companies. Forty-seven percent of workers in small firms are knowledgeable, compared with 60% in mid-size companies and 58% in large ones.

The reason for these numbers is that Americans spend little time on their own looking into benefits options. Only 8% of employees say they dedicate five hours or more to research before deciding on their enrollment benefits, according to the study. Nearly half of employees say they spend less than one hour. About one-quarter allocate less than 30 minutes.

To better educate their employees, companies can organize benefits fairs with insurance representatives and group enrollment meetings, according to WellPoint, which has a special voluntary benefits team that can explain details during informational events.

WellPoint’s voluntary benefits team can also create personalized enrollment kits. These are sent to an employer in security-sealed envelopes that contain pricing information as well as the employee’s personal details. Employees complete the sections on their personalized enrollment form and return it to the WellPoint representative at their company’s enrollment meetings.

WellPoint also offers online educational resources on voluntary benefits. These are available on local state plan websites.

The WellPoint survey polled 2,500 Americans over the age of 18. Of those, 1,370 are currently employed.

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Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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