As enrollment for 2011 calendar-year plans kicks into high gear, a series of studies suggest that employees are changing their attitudes — and their demands — about employee benefits.
For 2010 coverages, many employees (45 percent) actively chose their benefits rather than simply defaulting to what they had in the previous year, according to new research by Hewitt Associates. That’s the highest number since the group started tracking the data in 2003. Hewitt’s researchers note that cost shifting and changes resulting from recent health care reform will make it even more important for employees to take a close look at their benefits and make the right choices this year.
Not only are employees paying more attention to their benefits, they’re asking for more. A new poll by Prudential Financial, Inc., finds that employees want more benefits — and are willing to pay for them. The survey found that despite pressures created by the recent trend in cost shifting, 20 percent of employees added a new voluntary benefit through their employer in the past year.
Andy Mako, a senior vice president with Prudential, told Business Wire that employees are beginning to view voluntary benefits as a cost-effective way to protect their personal and financial health.
Voluntary offerings also can bolster an employer’s recruitment power, according to a separate survey by Wellpoint, Inc. Eighty-three percent of polled employees said they have a higher opinion of employers that offer a selection of voluntary benefits than those that don’t, according to a report in PLANSPONSOR.
In fact, almost 90 percent said it was important that companies offer a full range of health benefits, including voluntary offerings. Fifty-six percent said it was “very important.”
Employees said cost savings (54 percent), greater protection for their families (50 percent) and ease of mind (44 percent) were the top reasons for enrolling in voluntary programs.