Voluntary Benefits Help Reduce Financial Stress

Employers are increasingly offering voluntary benefits as a way to improve financial well-being, new research found.

According to the 2016 Xerox HR Services Financial Wellbeing & Voluntary Benefits Survey, two-thirds of companies are integrating more voluntary benefits to supplement their core benefits package to promote financial wellbeing and reduce stress among their workers.

Xerox research has found that more than a third of global companies rate their organizational stress levels as “high or very high,” and 87 percent see employee performance as the most important reason to address work-related stress and poor mental wellbeing.

“Our study shows 78 percent of employers view voluntary benefits as being extremely effective or very effective in supporting employee financial wellbeing, giving them peace of mind and a roadmap to financial control,” Tom Kelly, a principal at Xerox HR Services and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Traditionally, voluntary benefits have been non-core offerings that are paid partially or entirely by workers. Employers are now including these voluntary benefits as part of their core offerings provided during open enrollment periods. The most common examples include critical illness insurance, accident insurance and hospital indemnity coverage.

The recent online survey of more than 500 benefit decision-makers from large employers (more than 1,000 employees) found that 55 percent of companies are either working on implementing financial wellbeing strategies or plan to within the next three years, while 38 percent have a program already in place. The most popular strategies include financial health assessments, workshops, education materials and retirement planning calculators.

The main objective in integrating voluntary benefits with core benefits is to address the financial stress that many workers experience, which can ultimately lead to health issues and higher benefit costs. Other cited reasons include:

  • Reducing absences.
  • Increasing productivity and/or reducing workers’ compensation claims.
  • Attracting and retaining talent.
  • Providing awareness and education about the need for financial protection.

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