Almost half of employers surveyed in July by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company say they plan to add voluntary benefits to their plans within the next year.

More than 750 benefits administrators and human resource managers were surveyed at the Society for Human Resource Management annual conference in Las Vegas.

Other changes employers say they plan to make to their benefits plans within the next year include: 51% say increasing employees’ premiums, while 49% say increasing plan participants’ deductibles and/or co-pays.

“Not surprisingly, employee benefits have taken a hit as companies wrestle with the rising cost of providing health coverage to their workforce,” says Randy Horn, president and CEO of Colonial Life. “Offering voluntary products that complement core benefits can help companies better manage their costs. Voluntary plans can also give employees a convenient and affordable way to protect their families and lifestyles.”

Almost all employers (99.6%) agree plan participants are in need of guidance and benefits education in order to make decisions and help them understand changes in their plan. However, less than a quarter of employers believe their company currently provides very effective benefits education efforts.

“Employers see a need for more and better benefits education and communication,” says Horn.  “Providing personal, one-to-one benefits counseling can close the communications gaps that often hinder employees from fully understanding and appreciating their benefits.”

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