Based on Insights from MetLife’s 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, Formula Helps Employers Move Away from One-Size-Fits-All Voluntary Benefits Programs

Today’s employers are faced with the challenge of satisfying the various needs of a multi-generational, economically diverse workforce. MetLife’s Voluntary Value Formula, based on findings from MetLife’s 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, helps employers address these diverse needs without additional impacts to their budgets and resources. The formula and findings from the Study are available at

“Purchasing benefits is a lot like any other purchase decision—choices are driven by specific psychological, emotional and economic factors more so than logic,” notes James Reid, Executive Vice President, Group, Voluntary and Worksite Products at MetLife. “Our Voluntary Value Formula takes this into consideration and is designed to help determine what employees value most and enable employers to better communicate the benefits of those product features. By using communications to highlight the plan attributes their employees care about most, employers can help each generation obtain the options that best suit their needs.”

When evaluating benefits, employees look at how product features fit into their specific situation. The three key factors that impact this are: the need for coverage, plan and policy features, and product price. Simply put, they want to see how a particular feature – for example orthodontic care for a child – meets their needs and whether the price aligns with the level of protection they’re seeking. It’s not about finding the least expensive option but the one that offers the appropriate level of protection. Keeping these three factors in mind when communicating with employees can help underscore the value of these products and show how these products meet individual needs.

Employers can help employees make these connections by following three simple steps:

  • Provide a Broad Portfolio of Products According to the Study, an overwhelming majority of employees, 80%, value benefits that are personalized for their circumstances and age. Voluntary benefits can help address this need for personalization—and employees are willing pitch in, with 61% of those surveyed saying they are willing to bear the costs of benefits rather than lose them. Employers can offer a broad portfolio of voluntary products to enable individuals to identify the products that best work for their specific situations.
  • Show You Know Your Employees Voluntary benefit options that seem more personally relevant can contribute to an employee feeling more valued by the employer. Employers should seek out products and features that have specific meaning for each segment of their employee population and communicate the advantages of owning these benefits accordingly. By highlighting the options that employees care most about in benefit communications, employers can give their employees a sense of customization and make the value of these products apparent.
  • Select Voluntary Products Based on Value, Not Price Employers should look closely at plan attributes and understand the differentiators between products. These differentiating factors can influence the perceived value of the benefit and impact employees’ appreciation and participation.

“In creating the Voluntary Value Formula framework, we highlighted typical product features and illustrated the way these features might appeal to each generation,” notes Reid. “Employers do not need to deliver different plan designs or multiple versions of communications to use the formula. Instead, it is about focusing on making these advantages clear to the different generations—by taking this into account when communicating, the value of these products becomes more evident.”

To learn more about how employers can move away from a one-size-fits-all voluntary benefits program, access MetLife’s Voluntary Value Formula and 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study by visiting

Research Methodology 
MetLife’s 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study was conducted during October and November of 2013 and consisted of three distinct studies fielded by GfK Custom Research North America. The employer survey comprised 1,510 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees. The employees survey comprised 1,203 interviews with full-time employees age 21 and over, at companies with a minimum of two employees. The broker survey comprised 524 interviews with brokers and consultants who sell group employee benefits to companies of all sizes.

About GfK 
GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies with more than 13,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2012, GfK’s sales amounted to €1.51 billion. To find out more, visit

About MetLife 
MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information,


Judi Mahaney