The survey also flagged 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 size companies (small, 47 percent; medium, 60 percent; large, 58 percent).

There are a number of ways that companies can help their employees learn more about the voluntary benefits that are available to them, including organizing benefit fairs with insurance representatives, as well as group enrollment meetings. Companies like WellPoint have a special voluntary benefits team that can talk with employees and explain the voluntary benefit details during benefit fairs and enrollment meetings. WellPoint’s dedicated voluntary benefits team can also create personalized enrollment kits (which are sent to an employer in security sealed envelopes that are pre-populated with the employee’s personal information and cost information for the WellPoint voluntary benefits available to them). Employees complete the sections on their personalized enrollment form, sign and date it and return it to the WellPoint representative at their company’s enrollment meetings. Online educational resources on voluntary benefits are also available on WellPoint’s local state plan websites.

Efforts like these are important since Americans spend little time on their own researching benefit options. The 2012 survey found 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.

All in all, the survey findings continue to suggest that voluntary benefits are an easy, convenient and highly beneficial tool that employers can offer their employees.

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