Voluntary benefits such as health insurance, dental plans, and 401(k)’s have been around for many years now. Most companies offer benefits as an incentive to recruit and retain talent. As the job market tightens, companies have begun offering additional voluntary benefits as a way to stand out and appeal to modern generations.

As more voluntary benefits emerge, misconceptions have developed.

Voluntary Benefit Misconception #1: Employees would prefer a higher salary over better benefits

Several studies have shown that salary is not the most important factor in employee happiness. Across all income levels, work satisfaction originated from strong company culture and values of the organization.

Offering applicable voluntary benefits is a reflection of the company’s culture and values.

Voluntary Benefit Misconception #2: Employees are afraid to lose their health insurance by changing jobs

According to the United States Census Bureau, 55% of the American population is enrolled through an employer-based insurance plan. On average, 45% of private sector establishments offer health insurance, which means finding a new job with health benefits shouldn’t be difficult and health insurance companies can no longer disqualify a person with a pre-existing condition. Even if you do change to a job without a health plan, HealthCare.gov now provides a marketplace where all Americans can qualify for health insurance.

Workers are now more free than ever to change jobs. Employers offering exciting voluntary benefits will do well to recruit those looking for a change.

Voluntary Benefit Misconception #3: Employees need a 401(k) plan to retire

The Census Bureau reports that only 32% of the total workforce is saving for retirement through a 401(k). In fact, the median amount of retirement savings for Americans between the ages of 32 and 61 is only $5,000.

Retirement plans are wonderful for workers that have disposable income and can afford to put money away for retirement. Unfortunately, workers are carrying higher amounts of debt which interferes with their ability to save for the future.

Voluntary Benefit Misconception #4: Employees don’t care about the simple things

Modern trends in employee benefits include small perks that make a big impact. Speaking from personal experience, something as simple as providing free energy drinks can make an employee feel appreciated. Other simple perks employers are using to increase moral include casual dress codes, volunteer opportunities, and Taco Tuesdays.

You don’t have to spend a lot on benefits to show how much you appreciate your employees.

Voluntary Benefit Misconception #5: Employees don’t have enough vacation time

Forbes reports that Americans are not using half of their vacation days. Many workers are worried about a layoff and save up vacation days to use as a pay out. Others feel guilty taking off work because they are worried the team will be lost or overwhelmed without them. And even when they do take vacation, 2 out of 3 reported working while on vacation so that they don’t feel behind when they return.

Vacation time is intended as a health benefit that relieves stress. However, if workers are stressed about taking vacation time or working while on vacation, offering additional PTO days isn’t always an answer to help your employees out.

Offer a Benefit that Actually Benefits Your Employees

There are 44 million student loan debtors in America, most of whom are currently working. Offering a student loan assistance benefit is an affordable way to help your employees manage their debt and show how much you appreciate them.