NU Online News Service, Dec. 12, 6:17 p.m. – MetLife Inc., New York, today released the results of a survey report that suggests that employees want to buy a wider array of insurance products, investment products and other voluntary benefits at the workplace.

Fifty-nine percent of the employees surveyed now buy voluntary benefits — defined as products for which the employee pays all of the cost — at work, and 61% of the employees say they wish their employers offered more types of voluntary benefits.

These are some of the findings of two surveys conducted in the third quarter. One was an employer survey conducted by Innovative Concepts Inc., McLean, Va., and the other was an employee survey conducted by RoperASW, New York.

Employees between the ages of 21 and 30 are most likely to buy workplace products, followed by employees ages 31 to 40, according to the authors of the survey report.

The younger employees are also more likely to buy products such as annuities (56% vs. 43% overall), college savings plans (19% vs. 14% overall) and wills (13% vs. 7% overall). They also prefer enrolling for their benefits on the Web (57% vs. 45% overall) and obtaining service for their benefits online (43% vs. 34% overall).

Traditional benefits, paid for by the employer, still dominate the workplace benefits market, with more than 50% of the employers surveyed offering products such as basic life insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance and vision care insurance.

In addition to traditional benefit offerings, less traditional protection products and investment offerings — normally bought outside the workplace — are making significant strides as voluntary benefits, with the employees paying all of the cost, MetLife says.

A significant number of companies surveyed now offer — or are planning to add — the following products in the next 18 months: optional term life insurance (40%), long-term care insurance (37%), critical illness insurance (21%), travel accident insurance (19%), auto insurance (15%), group legal services (14%) and homeowners insurance (11%).

A growing number of companies also currently offer — or are planning to add — personal finance products in the next 18 months, such as stocks/bonds (21%), financial planning (16%), mutual funds (14%), 529 college savings plans (14%) and annuities (11%).

Sixty-one percent of the employees surveyed are interested in having access to a financial planner at work, according to the study. Researchers found that 76% of employees are concerned about having a financial plan, but only 18% indicate that they have a formal financial plan.