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Employees appreciate voluntary benefits, WellPoint survey finds

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Workers think more highly of  employers that offer voluntary benefits such as vision and pet insurance than those that don’t, a survey by WellPoint found.

However, only about half of the 2,500 people surveyed said they were knowledgeable about their employers’ voluntary insurance options were offered, noted Jeff Spahr, staff vice president of Vision and Voluntary Services for WellPoint. Educating employees, he said, is to the advantage of the employer. “The No. 1 key is communication,” Spahr said in an interview.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • 67%  said their employer currently offers voluntary insurance.
  • Not every worker is equally like to have access to such benefits. Men (71%), those located in the Northeast region (74%), workers at large companies (81%) and those with an average household income of $50,000 or more (74%) had higher than average rates of access.
  • The majority of workers agree (67 percent) that having their employer provide voluntary benefits would increase their productivity at work.

Most of the survey results reinforced what he and WellPoint already believed, Spahr said, but he was a bit surprised that if the employer did not offer the voluntary benefits, the employees often sought out those options on their own. This piece was critical, he said, as two of the main reasons employees enroll in voluntary benefits, such as gym memberships, life insurance or specified-disease insurance, was for peace of mind and greater protection for their families. “Employees do recognize and value employers that offer these programs,” Spahr said.