one-on-one-meeting-getty-crop-600x338We talk a lot about how important voluntary benefits are for employee satisfaction. These supplemental coverages, which can often be offered at little or no cost to the employer, make a number of benefits more accessible and affordable to workers who might not otherwise be able to purchase them.

In a recent groundbreaking report, 2,877 workers revealed whether or not they buy voluntary benefits, what affects their decisions, how satisfied they are with their benefits, how confident they are in their decision-making, and–most importantly–whether there’s a link between their benefits behaviors and how they feel about their employer.

Here are a few important takeaways from the study, particularly those that impact small business owners.

  • Decisions to enroll are based on both logical and emotional factors. When asked why they enrolled in certain benefits, employees mentioned factors such as price and plan details, as well as emotional factors such as peace of mind or relief. However, those who opted not to enroll almost solely cited ration considerations such as over-coverage or poor cost-value ratio.
  • Employees rely on a few, trusted sources to make their benefits decisions. Far and away, the most common sources employees cited were print material from their employer, online content from their employer, and print material from the benefits carrier. In a distant 4th place was a friend or colleague, which highlighted word of mouth in the benefit enrollment process.
  • A good number of employees sign up for all benefits offered, but others stop when “enough is enough.” As much as 25-30 percent said they sign up for everything. But a number of other respondents showed signs of benefit fatigue, citing issues like trouble keeping up with the many policies, benefit enrollment exhaustion, and a question of risk vs. reward on such a large investment in coverages.
  • Employees are satisfied with their benefits overall. This is good news, as respondents reported high levels of satisfaction with their benefits packages. When asked why, most said they were pleased with their personal cost, the quality of the coverages, and the variety of the benefits offered.
  • Almost four out of ten say their benefits have improved in recent years. Although the survey team expected respondents to report little or no change in this area, a surprising 37 percent said they’ve seen improvement. One caveat to this was that older employees seemed to view the trajectory of their benefits more negatively than their younger counterparts.
  • A whopping 65 percent said they are more likely to recommend their employer because of their benefits. This one goes without saying. Satisfied employees are often your best recruiting tool.
  • There’s still room for improvement. At the end of the survey, an open ended question asked respondents–aside from keeping costs low–what they’d most like to see from their employer to aid in their benefits decision-making in the future. Answers were all over the board, but several clear categories kept recurring from the 1,300 comments received:
    • Improved, detailed information that is updated regularly and available 24/7
    • More choices and options between plans/carriers/etc.
    • Reduced or better controlled costs
    • More support for decision making (e.g. online tools, group meetings, one-on-one counseling, continued education, etc.)
    • Simplified enrollment process with less paperwork and more automation

The bottom line? While employees seem generally pleased with their benefits–as well as the information, tools, and resources available to them–they still want more. There can never be too much information, too many choices, too much cost control, too many opportunities to learn, or too many ways to streamline the enrollment process. If we can help you in any of those areas, give us a call today.