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Employees favor companies that offer voluntary benefits

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Nine in 10 Americans believe companies that offer a full range of benefits help them simplify and secure their lives, according to new research.

Wellpoint Inc. discloses this finding in a survey that compares employed Americans’ knowledge and attitudes toward voluntary benefits in 2010 with those of employed Americans today. Wellpoint conducted the omnibus survey online among a national sample of 2,500 Americans ages 18 and older.

The survey finds that employees continue to favor companies that offer voluntary benefits with 90 percent of Americans agreeing that voluntary benefits are a good tool to help companies balance the needs of their employees while dealing with tightening budgets. Similar to 2010 findings, the survey cites saving money and offering protection for employees and their families as the most popular reasons for choosing to purchase a company’s voluntary benefits.

Voluntary benefits, which are traditionally paid for by the employee through payroll deductions, range from life insurance benefits, short-term and long-term disability, vision and dental care to pet care, legal plans and discount health and lifestyle benefits.

While two thirds of employees report they are satisfied with their employers’ benefit offerings, this represents a slight decline in satisfaction compared to 2010 when 73 percent claimed their satisfaction with their current benefits package.

The survey also notes that companies can do more to help their employees understand their benefit options. Only half of workers surveyed in 2010 and 2012 report being knowledgeable about voluntary benefits. And, employees in small companies are less knowledgeable about voluntary benefits than employees at medium- and large-sized companies (small, 47 percent; medium, 60 percent; large, 58 percent).

The 2012 survey finds that nearly half of employees (48 percent) say they spend less than one hour researching their options before deciding on enrollment benefits, with about a quarter (26 percent) spending less than 30 minutes. Only eight percent of employees report spending five hours or more on research before deciding on their enrollment benefits.