How disability and leave benefits help meet a range of employee needs

4 min read
Aug 29, 2022

Key Insights

Disability and leave benefits:

  • Enhance employee well-being
  • Drive better talent management outcomes
  • Signal that employers care about individual workers

Employers offering adaptable disability and leave benefits can boost satisfaction, retention and wellness for their entire workforce.

With four generations in the workplace, a mix of racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and greater diversity in sexual orientation, gender identification, and family structures, the workforce has never been more heterogeneous. And employers have never been more challenged indesigning benefits plans to address the huge range of employee needs.

Certainly, workers are looking for more support in meeting their unique personal commitments and in achieving holistic well-being, as demonstrated by MetLife’s 2022 Employee Benefit Trends Study 2022. Disability and leave benefits help employers go beyond one-size-fits-all solutions and empower employees to protect their lifestyles when big life events or unexpected changes occur. Such benefits are also associated with higher levels of employee satisfaction, loyalty and wellness.

The bottom line: disability and leave are powerful tools to attract and retain talent because these benefits demonstrate that employers care about the unique needs and overall well-being of all of their employees.

Why disability and leave benefits matter

During the last few years, both employers and employees have become more concerned about well-being—including mental, physical, financial and social health. With work-life balance harder to maintain, fewer than half of all employees said they were holistically well.

Workers who say they are holistically well

45 %
45 %

Most employees believe their employers are responsible for their mental well-being, and employers agree.

Workers are clearly interested in leave and disability benefits and see them as a way to improve their well-being.


employees who view paid and unpaid leave as the most important benefit that would improve their well-being 


employees who consider leave benefits as a must-have benefit, up from 71% in 2021

The value of disability and leave benefits

Effective disability benefits and leave programs pay off in the form of increased job satisfaction and loyalty. 

  • Employees who have disability benefits are 11% more likely to say they are satisfied with their current job.
  • Employees satisfied with employer-provided leave programs are 2.6x more likely to say that they worry less about unexpected health/financial issues, and 2x more likely to be satisfied with their job, and 1.8x more likely to intend to be in their role in 12 months
  • Employees with disability insurance are 21% more likely to say their benefit package reduces financial stress, a top cause of low mental health

They also correlate to stronger talent outcomes and higher degrees of mental wellness and holistic among select employee groups. 

  • Asian employees with disability benefits are 24% more likely to say they are satisfied with their current job, and 27% more likely to stay at their organization in 12 months’ time
  • Black employees with disability benefits are 26% more likely to be mentally healthy, 31% more likely to stay at their organization in 12 months’ time and 3x more likely to be holistically healthy
  • Caregivers with leave benefits are 73% more likely to be mentally healthy
    Employees worried about their well-being will feel more secure knowing they have benefits that allow them to take time off to access care for themselves, provide care to a loved one, or take paid family medical leave.

Employees worried about their well-being will feel more secure knowing they have benefits that allow them to take time off to access care for themselves, provide care to a loved one, or take paid family medical leave.

Being able to be out on short-term and long-term disability was a benefit. I had surgery this year, so I was out for two months. I was able to use my sick leave and my job was protected.

Building strong benefits platforms, with inclusive policies and flexible options to serve the whole employee

Employers looking to achieve these talent outcomes should take the following actions: 

Offer broader short-term and long-term disability coverage: Employees can opt into coverage for both existing and unexpected disabilities, including accidents, critical illnesses, and serious mental health problems. 

Provide flexible leave policies: Employers can support employees by staying up to date on various state paid family and medical leaves as well as offering time off for a range of life events, medical needs, and personal situations. Parental leave is especially appealing to professional and office-based workers, while caregivers value paid leave to look after family members (e.g., children, aging parents). Beyond serious illness and accidents, more companies have begun offering leave for bereavement, religious observance, military duty, voting and jury duty, volunteering and community service and sabbaticals.

Empower employees with financial benefits: Income protection has become a priority for many employees, while subsidies for emergency care or pre-tax accounts can be used to pay for dependent care. Flexibility around premiums and eligibility requirements make such benefits available to more workers. 

Establish access to wellness programs and resources: Popular physical wellness benefits include access to telemedicine, gym memberships, reimbursements for virtual exercise classes and home exercise equipment. Employees also value financial wellness programs, including classes and tools for money management, budgeting and retirement planning, as well as debt counselling. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) have also become more common to support mental health for more employees. 

The counseling apps and tools to aid mental health interest me the most as it’s something I have always struggled with. I would definitely consider using these if it were offered by my employer.

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