What Voluntary Benefits Will Look Like in 2021

Purchasing Power® Predicts 4 Trends to Expect as a Pandemic-Weary Workforce Faces New Realities

The impact of COVID-19 on employees’ lives and their finances has shined a spotlight on the value of voluntary benefits, which have given employers a way to meet the shifting needs and priorities of their workforce during a critical time. Moving into 2021, industry veteran Mike Wilbert, chief revenue officer of Purchasing Power®, a voluntary benefit company that offers the leading employee purchase program through payroll deduction, sees voluntary benefits taking on even more importance.

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“COVID-19 has disrupted our world in ways we never would have imagined this year. Likewise, the pandemic has changed the employee benefits landscape. In 2021, employers will continue to seek ways to expand the voluntary benefit offerings in their employee benefit packages to provide more customized options to meet workforce needs, whether that’s targeting traditional voluntary benefits or non-traditional ones for lifestyle, personal wellness and financial health,” Wilbert explained.

What’s ahead in 2021 for voluntary benefits? Here are Wilbert’s predictions on the trends for next year.

  1. A growth spurt for the voluntary benefits industry.
    Over the past decade, voluntary benefit sales have grown about 4.5% to 5% a year. Voluntary benefits have always been a win-win for employers and employees. They have become even more popular in recent years as the products themselves have become more diversified and appealing to multiple generations in the workplace. Look for a jump in the growth rate in 2021 as employers expand their offerings and as employees are choosing voluntary benefit options as a ‘go-to’ option to help them face financial challenges as a result of COVID-19.

  2. All voluntary benefits that address employees’ financial well-being will likely take top billing.
    One critical piece of pandemic disruption that employers can’t overlook is their employees’ financial situation. In September, 84% of Americans reported that the COVID-19 outbreak was causing stress on their personal finances.And 39% say they will feel “very/somewhat worried” about their financial situation 12 months from now. 2 As employees look for ways to stretch their paycheck and recover from financial hardship, voluntary benefits like employee purchase programs, bill payment programs, financial counseling and student loan repayment benefit programs will get more attention. It’s also possible we see more financial wellness and well-being products introduced.

  3. Even more customization of benefits will be of interest to employees.
    We’ll see employees paying more attention to benefits that they might not otherwise have found as important or needed pre-pandemic, such as pet insurance, identity theft protection, legal insurance and employee purchase programs. With more people working from home, an increase in pet adoptions is making pet insurance a highly requested voluntary benefit.Because cash and credit are not always readily available, the ability to purchase home office and workout equipment or needed appliances through the convenient payroll deduction system of an employee purchase program can be an invaluable benefit.

  4. Employees will continue to look more closely at voluntary benefits available to them.
    The pandemic has forced many employees to look for resources and assistance they may never have thought about previously. For the current enrollment season, nearly 7 in 10 employees (71%) plan to spend more time reviewing their voluntary benefits as a result of COVID-19 than they did last year and more than half (53%) plan to make changes to their benefits coverages.Now that employees have begun to pay more attention to voluntary benefits, we’ll see that trend continue in 2021.

“In 2021 voluntary benefits become an even more personal choice for employees as they continue to navigate the effect the pandemic has had on their financial situation. Being able to pick and choose products that will meet their individual needs is going to be a lifeline for many who are still recovering,” Wilbert concluded.

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