NEW - Nivati adds financial wellness tool! Learn More

July 27, 2016 Amelia Wilcox

What are Voluntary Employee Benefits?

Looking for unique ways to make employees happy — or even draw top talent to your company? Voluntary benefits go above and beyond typical benefits offerings. And they offer a way for companies to stand out. So how do you get started?

In this article, we’ll cover what voluntary employee benefits are, and some key ideas to get started with.

What Are Voluntary Benefits?


voluntary employee benefits


Voluntary Benefits Definition


Voluntary benefits offer a way for companies to offer coverage and services beyond traditional benefits. Because they are voluntary, typically employees pay 100% of the cost, while getting the benefit of a group rate discount through their employer. 

Some companies may choose to subsidize a portion of the cost of some voluntary benefits.

Unlike required employee benefits, providing voluntary benefits is at the company’s discretion. This gives companies an opportunity to showcase how they differ from other companies, depending on the types of benefits they provide.

Related: Required Employee Benefits: Don’t Just Meet Them, Raise the Stakes

According to Benefits Pro, the importance of voluntary benefits offerings is expected to grow 27% over the next 5 years. This means applicants will start to expect more companies to offer more than the standard benefits.

Related: How Do Employee Benefits Close the Deal for Top Talent Recruits? 


voluntary benefits plan


What’s Included in a Voluntary Benefits Plan?


Voluntary benefits packages can include an array of products and services that address all areas of your employees’ lives. Here are the two main categories of these kinds of workplace benefits.

Related: Workplace Benefits 101: Are Your Employees Covered?


Financial Assistance Benefits

More often, employees are looking for various kinds of financial support and assistance. For younger workers, the growing burden of student loan debt has them looking for options. And workers who are nearing retirement may want some additional financial advising as well.

Some voluntary benefits some companies offer include reduced rates for mortgages or student loans, assistance in student loan repayment, financial counseling and advising, and even full-scale financial wellness programs.

Financial wellness programs can include a series of workshops on investing, dealing with bankruptcy, debt management, and how to create and stick to a budget. Read more here: The New Employee Stress Relief: Financial Wellness Programs at Work.


Wellness Benefits

Companies of a certain size are legally required to offer health insurance to employees. But beyond that, not much else is expected in terms of employee wellness.

Employers looking for top talent to add to their team can do well by including more wellness benefits. Discounted gym memberships, nutritional supplements and vitamins, and dental/vision insurance are some ways to start. Accidental injury insurance and life insurance are other popular voluntary benefits.

And finally, including on site massage services for employees can even make a positive impact on the company’s finances.

Related: 3 Ways Office Chair Massage Makes Business Sense


voluntary benefits definition


How to Make Voluntary Employee Benefits Work for Your Company

For maximum impact, offer voluntary benefits that align with your company values and the culture you strive for.

Do you want empowered, smart employees? Offer financial counseling.

Want employees who can remain relaxed and focus in times of high stress? Offer as much you can to support their wellness — mental, physical, and emotional.

Ultimately, the environment you create for your employees will be a big part of how effective they can be at work.


Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)