News for HR Professionals


Voluntary Benefits Unlock the Door to Achieving Employee Goals

It’s an employee’s market at the moment—one in which employers go head-to-head in the hiring arena to attract and retain the best and brightest talent. To stay competitive and increase satisfaction after the hire, many companies are looking beyond basic benefits offerings to provide a range of additional options geared to employees’ changing needs.

It’s a valid strategy, considering that 92 percent of employees indicate that their benefits are important to their overall job satisfaction¹, and an additional 85 percent see a growing need for voluntary benefits that let them meet personal objectives by customizing their benefits package². According to a 2018 survey by Willis Towers Watson³, these are three of the most commonly reported employee goals, along with our take on how voluntary benefits factor in.

Meaningful choice matters.

Employees want more choice and variety in benefits to enhance their experience at work, and employers have stepped up to deliver, with 86 percent projected to expand their offerings by 2020³. The process has been underway for some time now—34 percent of organizations have increased offerings in the last 12 months, and the prevalence of those offering over 60 benefits has risen sharply since 2016⁴—and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Sheer numbers aren’t all that matters, though: employees are also in search of well-thought-out options that make the choice meaningful, which means you should consider the quality of your offering as well as its breadth when selecting voluntary benefits to add.

Diversity is a key factor.

As workplaces become more diverse, so do employees’ family situations and needs, prompting them to look for more flexible and customizable benefits. In fact, MetLife reports that customizable benefits are among the top five drivers of happiness at work, and that 72 percent of employees say that having customizable benefits would increase their loyalty⁵. Some of the demand is driven by generational differences: for example, because millennials are more likely to own pets than older generations, they’re also more likely to be interested in pet insurance, which lets them plan ahead for expenses associated with their animal companions. But no matter where the impetus originates, employers are taking it seriously: one of the top three reasons they give for increasing benefits is response to employee feedback⁴.

Financial wellbeing drives decisions.

Financial worries are universal, and it’s a safe bet that your employees have their share—after all, if they didn’t need money, they likely wouldn’t be working. According to MetLife, employees across all ages and life stages cite personal finances as their number-one source of stress⁵, and research conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates reveals that saving money is the leading trigger for employees to make a change to their benefits⁴. While concerns about retirement, unexpected disability and other major financial burdens loom large in that decision-making process, everyday expenses such as medical care for pets are a source of anxiety as well. Providing voluntary benefits to address them can go a long way toward alleviating the strain, ultimately freeing employees to focus on their jobs.

It’s not too late to create a voluntary benefits offering that meets all your employees’ goals for the upcoming year. Whether you’re finishing up your 2020 planning, or still considering options, Nationwide® can help you identify the right solutions to round out your program and make your company a more desirable place to work. Visit today to get started.

  1. Society for Human Resource Management. (2017). Employee job satisfaction and engagement: The doors of opportunity are open. Alexandria, VA: Society for Human Resource Management
  2. 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report
  3. Willis Towers Watson 2018 Emerging Trends: Voluntary Benefits and Services Survey
  4. Society for Human Resource Management 2018 Employee Benefits: The Evolution of Benefits. Employee Benefits Report.pdf
  5. MetLife’s 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2019
  6. Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates, Health and Workplace Benefits Survey, 2018