With so many people facing challenging circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are now looking to their employers for value-added voluntary benefits and financial employee benefits that protect their and their families’ health and finances, a new study has found. According to the study conducted by Prudential Life Insurance, 40% of U.S workers are planning to buy life insurance to cover unexpected life events and provide financial protection. The good news is that there are a variety of employee benefit plans designed to help safeguard employees’ finances and health during this unprecedented time.
Beyond the traditional retirement and health care plans, employees now expect a more extensive choice of benefits that are tailored to their changing lifestyles and needs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most desired employee benefits
The pandemic has closed the gap between employees’ desire for certain benefits and the offerings of their employer. When asked which voluntary benefits they would like their employers to offer in the future, employees listed in order of preference:
- Paid time off for volunteering;
- Paid time off;
- Employee assistance programs;
- Paid sabbatical; and
- Hospital indemnity insurance.
More employers interested
In wave two of the study, more employers said they are likely to offer additional financial employee benefits and services that they do not currently offer, such as additional paid time off, employee assistance programs, hospital indemnity insurance, and behavioral/mental health services.
In response to employee needs, employers grew more interested in providing the following benefits from March to June:
- Paid time off for volunteering (20% previously to 42%)
- Paid time off (31% to 52%)
- Employee assistance programs (38% to 56%)
- Paid sabbatical (21% to 38%)
- Hospital indemnity insurance (34% to 48%)
- Critical illness insurance (36% to 50%)
- Student loan repayment plans (27% to 38%)
- Behavioral/mental health services (42% to 51%)
- Wellness benefits (42% to 51%)
- Pet insurance (22% to 29%).
With new financial strains as a result of the outbreak, more companies are offering extra paid time off benefits for those who are self-quarantined or infected by the virus.
Furthermore, aside from the health-related benefits, workers have increasingly recognized the value of a cohesive workplace benefits package to safeguard their financial security over the near and long terms.
The pandemic has served as a wake-up call for many employees that they need to be better prepared for the unexpected. But surprisingly, despite the widespread stress and anxiety in the first few months of the COVID-19 outbreak, most 401(k) plan participants and sponsors are staying the course, according to new data from the National Association of Plan Advisors.
Moreover, 401(k) plans also offer solutions like financial wellness under the CARES Act to provide financial relief to people who have been affected by the virus.
Overall, the vast majority of workers are pleased with the benefits provided by their employers as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Prudential study found. Some 65% of employees claim that their organization’s response has been adequate.
However, even if most employees continue to have a positive view of their benefits, their trust in their employers’ benefits decisions have shifted in a downward trend since the wake of the pandemic.