5 employee trends driving the growing case for voluntary benefits

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Seismic changes have dramatically altered the employee and benefit landscape over the past few years — and there’s no turning back. Today’s employees are increasingly looking toward employers who can provide not just work-life flexibility but also financial wellness support to help alleviate stress. For example, 76% of employees say they are more likely to be attracted to a company that cares more about their financial well-being.1 And more than half say they’re apt to stay with an employer who provides ways to improve their financial wellness.2

For employers, the changing landscape urges a new approach to benefit solutions that supports evolving employee needs and cultivates physical, mental and financial well-being. This is where voluntary benefits can play a big role. Especially, considering the following trends that could impact employee benefits and employer success in the coming year: 

1. Employees want ways to mitigate ongoing financial volatility. 

The pandemic highlighted multiple financial vulnerabilities for many individuals and families. Now, as we move into a post-pandemic phase, many are looking for ways to limit their financial risk. Inflation, the specter of a recession, and debt incurred during the pandemic and after may put employees’ financial stability at risk.

Looking ahead, nearly three-quarters of adults say they’re worried about the economy this year, and more than half are concerned about their personal finances.3 What’s more, 43% of voluntary benefit brokers say that the COVID-19 crisis continues to drive people toward their options as employees realize they need additional solutions to protect themselves.4 Voluntary benefits, such as life insurance and short-term disability, for example, may provide a cost-effective way for employees to help alleviate some of their concerns.

2. The talent shortage will likely continue. 

Across industries, hiring managers and HR teams may wish to focus on retaining their current workforce and dip into previously untapped pools of talent. Voluntary benefits can potentially help employers attract and hold onto quality employees. Nearly 50% of employees cite benefits as an important reason to stay at their jobs, and 60% say benefits are an important reason to join an organization.5 In addition, voluntary benefits make it possible for employers to tailor their plans to the various needs of a diverse workforce. For example, a single employee in their 30s may prioritize a plan with a generous employer retirement match and student loan assistance, while working parents may want a Flexible Spending Account and emergency savings benefits.

3. Employees are prioritizing mental health — and mental health benefits. 

The percentage of employees reporting mental health concerns, along with the link between financial concerns and mental health, has increased over the past few years. For example, consider that half of all full-time employees say that they are somewhat anxious about their mental health.6 In the wake of the Great Resignation and an epidemic of employee burnout, employers have taken note.

But there remains a disconnect between the mental health benefit that employers say they’re offering. What’s more, 82% of employers say their workforce has increased access to mental health resources; however, only 50% of workers say the same.7 Doubling down on voluntary mental health benefits can help meet the growing need for mental health support and foster employee well-being.

4. Employers are looking for more cost-effective solutions. 

Employers and employees continue to face rising health care costs, with employer costs predicted to increase by 6.5% this year.8 In addition, health insurance costs are expected to rise 7.4% this year — and the lag effect of inflation will likely continue to impact health care costs into 2024.9

As inflation impacts the expenses of companies and workers alike, both sides are keenly interested in ways to save — without dramatically impacting the benefits provided. Voluntary benefits can help. For example, options such as Health Savings Accounts and emergency savings solutions give companies the ability to offer employees additional financial resources without incurring significant expenses.

5. Personalization continues to reign. 

All the above trends speak to the continuing need for personalized benefit plans. Whether employers are looking to attract new candidates or retain their most valuable employees, the opportunity to customize benefits packages remains a differentiator. While voluntary benefits often include common solutions such as critical illness or accident insurance, employers can also leverage financial wellness, student loan benefits, and other options.

Leveraging digital experiences that help employees understand how benefits work — and how they work together — empowers employees to create plans that sync their financial goals and needs with the benefit options. The end results are hyper-personalized plans that deepen employee engagement with their benefits and encourage utilization.

Access voluntary benefits with Voya 

With our suite of voluntary options, including Group Employee Benefits and Health Account Solutions, employers can keep pace with these trends and stay relevant in a rapidly changing employment market. Options including whole and term life insurance, short-term disability, critical illness* and accident insurance, allow employees to create a benefits plan that reflects their new needs and concerns.

In addition, emergency savings and student loan debt solutions can help address employee financial worries and optimize financial success. In a changing world, voluntary benefits help both employers and employees to adapt and thrive.

To discover how our voluntary benefits may fit into your plan, contact your Voya representative today.

Neither Voya® nor its affiliated companies or representatives provide tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax adviser or attorney before making a tax-related investment/insurance decision.

*Critical Illness may be referred to as Specified Disease in some states.

Read related articles:


  1. PWC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, pwc.com, 2022.
  2. Voya-sponsored AYTM Plan Participant Survey, January 2021.
  3. Hess, AJ. “These are workers’ biggest fears about 2023.” FastCompany.com, December 14, 2022.
  4. Brazzell, Bonnie. “Positive outlook: 8 trends in voluntary benefits.” BenefitsPRO.com, May 12, 2022.
  5. WTW, Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, “Health and retirement benefits rise in significance in employees’ decisions to stay or leave,” June 2022.
  6. Hess, AJ. “These are workers’ biggest fears about 2023.” FastCompany.com, December 14, 2022.
  7. Fox, Michelle. “Employers boost mental wellness benefits amid the Great Resignation.” CNBC.com, Published May 5, 2022.
  8. Lagasse, Jeff. “Health benefit costs expected to rise 5.4% in 2023.” HealthCareFinance.com, December 14, 2022.
  9. Alltucker, Ken. “Inflation is near a four-decade high. So why aren’t health care costs significantly higher?” USAToday.com, Published October 17, 2022.

Some products and services offered by the Voya® family of companies. Health Account Solutions, including Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts, Commuter Benefits, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, and COBRA Administration offered by Voya Benefits Company, LLC (in New York, doing business as Voya BC, LLC). HSA custodial services provided by an approved HSA custodian as indicated in the applicable custodial agreement. For all other products, administration services provided in part by WEX Health, Inc.

Insurance is issued and underwritten by ReliaStar Life Insurance Company (Minneapolis, MN) and ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York (Woodbury, NY). Both are members of the Voya® family of companies. Within the State of New York, only ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York is admitted, and its products issued. Voya Employee Benefits is a division of both companies. Product availability and specific provisions may vary by state.