COVID-19 Is Prompting More People to Review Workplace Benefits

More than half plan to make changes during open enrollment, according to Voya Financial.

The majority of working Americans will be looking to their workplace benefits for health and wealth support as a result of COVID-19, especially as they prepare for open enrollment in the midst of a pandemic, Voya Financial found in a survey.

Eighty-four percent of workers said they think their core benefits—medical, vision and dental—can sufficiently cover unplanned medical expenses. However, 71% plan to spend more time reviewing voluntary benefits than they did in their last enrollment period, and 53% plan to make changes to their benefits coverage.

“With COVID-19 part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, our new survey reveals that many are focused on ways that they can protect the health and wealth of themselves and their families, and they recognize workplace benefits are a way to do just that,” says Rob Grubka, president of employee benefits at Voya Financial. “As a result, this upcoming open enrollment season, which typically occurs in the fall for millions of Americans, presents an opportunity for individuals to rethink and re-evaluate previously untapped benefits offered by their employer. This is not the year for employees to hit the ‘default button’ on their workplace benefits, and I find it encouraging to see that more working Americans plan to take positive steps during their next open enrollment period.”

Asked how they could better manage their current health needs, 38% of those surveyed pointed to health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs). That was followed by 35% of employees selecting supplemental health benefits, such as hospital indemnity insurance, critical illness insurance or short-term and long-term disability income insurance.

Generation Z was the generation wanting the most additional information (82%) about benefits. This was true for 79% of Millennials, 77% of Generation X and 70% of Baby Boomers.

Eighty-three percent of members of Gen Z said they plan to spend more time reviewing their workplace benefits, while this is the case for 72% of Millennials, 71% of Gen X and 63% of Boomers.

Seventy-four percent of those in Gen Z plan to make changes to their benefits, compared with 60% of Millennials, 53% of Gen X and 28% of Boomers.

“As the youngest and newest workers, it makes sense that Gen Z would be most engaged on benefits, as they have had the least amount of time in the workforce, less familiarity with employee benefits options and limited experience making employee benefit decisions compared to their older colleagues,” Grubka adds. “The pandemic has presented employers with a unique opportunity to help educate Gen Z about the value of workplace benefits early in their careers, during a time when, historically, individuals tend to be less concerned with their health and financial wellness needs.”

Voya says sponsors should encourage their workers to follow through on their selections, as 49% of survey respondents said they would rather plan a home improvement project or review their home cable and internet options than make a benefits change.

Nonetheless, 49% of respondents said becoming more financially secure is their top priority as life eventually goes back to normal.