- Employers are granting voluntary benefits — unsubsidized offerings — greater importance, according to the results of a Willis Towers Watson survey released mid-May.
- In 2018, just over a third of employers said voluntary benefits would be an important part of their employee value proposition and total rewards strategy in three years. This year, 94% of respondents shared that prediction, Willis Towers Watson said.
- Identity theft, hospital indemnity and pet insurance are among the fastest growing voluntary benefits. Employers' most common current or future offerings include financial planning (93%), tuition reimbursement (88%), telephonic financial counseling (77%), onsite fitness center (54%), backup childcare (48%) and eldercare (44%).
These findings indicate that employees want more choice and flexibility in their benefits selection, according to Lydia Jilek, senior director of voluntary benefits solutions at Willis Towers Watson; "Employers are supplementing existing core benefits with more personalized benefits to provide additional ways to support their employees' overall wellbeing and enhance the perceived value of their benefit offerings — including adding voluntary benefits to the core benefits administration flow."
The coronavirus pandemic served as a catalyst for this trend, Jilek said. It heightened a desire for protection against expensive healthcare bills and loss of income, among other risks.
The arrival of COVID-19 changed other areas of benefits strategy, as well. Several large employers deployed new benefits as part of their coronavirus strategies. Target, for instance, provided team members free online access to mental health apps. Starbucks partnered with Lyra to give workers free therapy sessions.
The coronavirus also spurred on caretaking-related benefits. Consistent with Willis Towers Watson's survey results, a February Care.com report found that 63% of employers it surveyed were opting to add child care benefits to their offerings.