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Guardian Research: Employees Increasing Reliance on Voluntary Benefits to Cover Financial Gaps
[November 29, 2012]

Guardian Research: Employees Increasing Reliance on Voluntary Benefits to Cover Financial Gaps

Nov 29, 2012 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) -- The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, a mutual life insurer and a provider of employee benefits, released new research findings that outline the important value employees continue to place on "voluntary benefits" at the workplace to cover financial gaps within overall benefits packages.

According to a release, 60 percent of employees consider the workplace their primary source for financial services and health protection products, and as such, place a higher value on their overall benefits package when it includes voluntary benefits offerings.

Guardian said the offering of these voluntary products also translates into an increase in Guardian's Benefits Value Index, which measures the degree to which American workers value their benefits. By providing workers with even greater access to these financial safety net benefits, employers have a real opportunity to help improve their employees' perceptions of their overall benefits package, which ultimately can lead to a more engaged worker.

"As employees have increased their reliance on the workplace for personal insurance, they have placed more of a need for additional coverage for important health and financial protections. Our research indicates that employers offering a wider range of voluntary benefits options at the workplace has improved the attitudes of many workers and how they view their employer and overall benefits package," said Elena Wu, Vice President, Group Marketing and Learning Services at Guardian. "As a provider of insurance benefits, it is our responsibility to help brokers and employers better understand the significance of voluntary benefits products, and provide more decision support and guidance to educate workers on how to ensure financial security for themselves and their families." The Guardian survey found that nearly half of employees feel that the workplace plays a more important role in their personal finances compared to five years ago. The results indicate that 64 percent of workers value the research and shopping that their employers do on their behalf when selecting voluntary benefits, as compared to just 36 percent who feel the insurance company brand name is most important.

Cost advantages, payment options, easier access and convenience continue to be fundamental to the growth of workplace insurance benefits. Among those who would like their employer to offer additional voluntary benefits, a majority (62 percent) express interest in critical illness insurance, such as accident and cancer products, while half are interested in disability insurance. Not surprisingly, medical insurance, dental insurance and vision insurance are the most widely owned products at the workplace; however, accident insurance is the only product that is more likely to be owned outside of the workplace.

Voluntary benefits have a positive impact on worker attitudes toward the value of their overall benefits package. Nearly nine in 10 workers agree that voluntary benefits add value to their benefits package, and one-third said they are very interested in their employer offering more voluntary benefits. More than six in 10 employers report that they offer benefits to expand upon those already offered to their employees. And, nearly half of all companies offer voluntary benefits to fill unmet employee needs.

Benefits-related education and effective decision support will be necessary to ensure that worker confidence translates into adequate financial and health protection. Interestingly, more than half of workers surveyed are highly confident in their ability to make the right benefits decisions.

The Guardian Workplace Benefits Study:

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