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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Voluntary Employee Benefits

Voluntary employee benefits add a layer of personalization and value to your company's overall benefits package.

What are voluntary benefits?

Voluntary employee benefits are a category of perks or advantages offered by employers that employees can choose to opt into and often pay for (partially or fully) through payroll deductions. They are distinct from core benefits like health insurance or retirement plans, which are typically mandatory for eligible employees.

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What categories do voluntary benefits fall into?

Voluntary employee benefits can be broadly categorized into the following groups:

  • Health and wellness: These benefits often complement core health insurance plans. Examples include vision insurance, dental insurance, accident insurance, critical illness insurance, gym memberships, and wellness programs.
  • Financial wellness: These benefits can help employees manage their finances and plan for the future. Examples include life insurance, disability insurance, supplemental retirement savings plans, legal services plans, and financial education programs.
  • Personal benefits: These benefits offer convenience and cater to employees' personal lives. Examples include pet insurance, travel insurance, auto insurance, identity theft protection, and dependent care assistance programs.
  • Work-life balance: These benefits help employees achieve a better balance between work and personal life. Examples include flexible work arrangements, child care assistance, elder care assistance, and employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide confidential counseling and support services.

What are the examples of voluntary benefits and their costs?

Specific examples, their estimated costs, and how they can be a magnet for attracting and retaining top talent.

  • Dental insurance: $20 - $50  
  • Accident insurance: $5 - $15  
  • Critical illness insurance: Varies based on coverage and age  
  • Gym memberships: Can be subsidized by the employer, with some offering discounts. Employee cost depends on the gym chosen.  
  • Wellness programs: Often free or low-cost for employees.  

1. Financial Wellness: Life insurance (term life): Varies based on coverage amount and age

  • Disability insurance: Varies based on coverage amount and occupation  
  • Supplemental retirement savings plans: Employee contribution depends on desired savings goals.  
  • Legal services plans: $10 - $30  
  • Financial education programs: Often free or low-cost for employees.  

2. Personal Benefits: Pet insurance: $15 - $60 per month per pet  

  • Travel insurance: Cost depends on trip details and coverage.  
  • Auto insurance: Not typically offered as a voluntary benefit, but employee discounts might be available.  
  • Identity theft protection: $8 - $24  
  • Dependent care assistance programs (DCAP): Allows employees to set aside pre-tax dollars for child or elder care, reducing their taxable income.  

3. Work-Life Balance: Flexible work arrangements (remote work, compressed workweeks): ** No direct cost to employee but may require investment in technology for remote work setup.

  • Childcare assistance: Varies depending on the program and provider. Employers might offer subsidies or discounts.  
  • Elder care assistance: Like childcare assistance programs.  
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs): Typically, free and confidential for employees.  

Why offer voluntary benefits?

There are several compelling reasons for employers to offer voluntary employee benefits:

  • Increased employee satisfaction and engagement: A wider range of benefits allows employees to personalize their coverage and address their specific needs. This can lead to a happier and more engaged workforce.
  • Attracting and retaining talent: A robust voluntary benefits package can be a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, especially in a tight job market.
  • Improved employee well-being: Voluntary benefits can address various aspects of employee well-being, such as financial security, health, and work-life balance. This can lead to a healthier and more productive workforce.
  • Cost-effectiveness for employers: Since employees typically contribute to the cost of voluntary benefits, it can be a cost-effective way for employers to expand their benefits offerings without a significant financial burden.

How do voluntary benefits attract and retain talent?

Voluntary benefits play a significant role in attracting and retaining talent in today's competitive job market. Here's how:

  • Customization and choice: Voluntary benefits empower employees to personalize their benefits package based on their needs and life stages. This demonstrates that the employer cares about individual well-being and caters to a diverse workforce.
  • Financial wellness: Financial wellness benefits like supplemental retirement plans, legal services, and financial education programs can help employees manage their finances and feel more secure about their future. This reduces stress and fosters a more engaged workforce.
  • Work-life balance: Benefits like flexible work arrangements, child care assistance, and EAPs can significantly improve employees' work-life balance. This is a major factor for many job seekers, particularly those with families or caregiving responsibilities.
  • Competitive advantage: A comprehensive voluntary benefits package can differentiate your company from competitors who might only offer basic benefits. This can be especially attractive to younger generations who value work-life balance and financial wellness.
  • Cost-effectiveness for employers: Since employees typically contribute to voluntary benefits, it allows employers to expand their offerings without a significant financial burden. This makes it a strategic way to enhance the overall compensation package and attract top talent.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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