Voluntary Benefits: The Missing Ingredient in Hospitality Talent Attraction & Retention

voluntary benefits workers coffee shop
National Restaurant Assoc Show April 2022 728×90

Employee retention is a serious issue that employers in the hospitality and food service industry are facing today and as businesses recover from impacts of the pandemic, labor shortages still threaten the progress. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has an annual turnover rate of 73.6%1, much higher than any other industry.

In addition, the food and beverage production industry has felt firsthand the pain of worker shortages, with 45% of food manufacturers stating retention as a top issue;2 some 360,000 jobs were unfilled in nondurable goods manufacturing (including food and beverage) as of July 2021.Most employers, restaurants included, realize the importance of securing the loyalty and retention of existing employees, improving productivity, and remaining competitive. The right combination of voluntary benefits can differentiate food and beverage companies in their struggle to attract and retain talent long term.

At the same time, while employers are working hard to manage rising health care costs, offering voluntary benefit solutions is a win-win strategy for employers and their employees. A customized voluntary benefits program offers employees the choice they want and helps them close coverage gaps, without impacting your bottom line.

Historically, ancillary benefits have provided companies with a cost-effective and personalized suite of products, but in today’s environment where employees and their families are likely to incur more out-of-pocket expenses, voluntary benefits serve as a means to empower the employee. Some traditional advantages of voluntary benefits seem more obvious, such as the following:

  • Attracting and retain top quality employees;
  • Protecting the financial health, wellness, and security of your employees;
  • Adding benefits to your employee benefits program without adding to your costs;
  • Helping you address the rising costs of major medical health insurance.

Funded by the employer or not, voluntary benefits have value to workers in this highly competitive labor market. Here are some options to consider:

  • Supplemental health: Employees are often stretched to cover out-of-pocket medical costs. Supplemental health coverage pays benefits to members directly for treatments related to injuries, the costs of hospitalization or a covered critical condition.
  • Accident insurance: If an employee or the employee’s family members suffer an accident away from the job, accident insurance helps pay for treatment. This coverage can help reduce workers’ compensation claims, as the funds enable employees to pay for treatment (rather than delaying it) if they are hurt.
  • Digital benefits wallets: Easy access to benefits doesn’t just help employee wellness but boosts engagement. So-called digital “wallets” are a representation of benefits details, with a “card” for every offering on a smartphone. These cards can help workers access everything from 24/7 telemedicine to mental health and caregiver support services and discounts for prescription drugs.
  • Legal services benefits: Group legal plans ensure access to professional legal help for everything from traffic tickets and small claims to landlord and immigration issues. They are good for employers on multiple fronts beyond recruitment, helping reduce presenteeism and absenteeism.
  • Early wage access: These programs give employees access to earnings that have accrued between paychecks. Early wage access can be an attractive option for food and beverage workers to help avoid predatory lending and other practices that can hurt their finances.

Offering voluntary benefits can help manage the labor gap in the hospitality industry and attract long-term staff. Work with your insurance advisor to offer a strategic and competitive benefits package.

Culinary Institute of America (CIA) May 2022 728×90



  1. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf
  2. Deloitte, “Deloitte and FMI – The Food Industry Association: New Study Examines the Future of Work in the Food Industry,” July 27, 2021.
  3. Food Processing, “Where Did All of the Food & Beverage Workers Go?” Nov. 2, 2021.
Robert Fiorito serves as Vice President with HUB International Northeast, a leading global insurance brokerage, where he specializes in providing insurance services to the restaurant industry. As a 25-year veteran and former restaurateur himself, Bob has worked with a wide array of restaurant and food service businesses, ranging from fast-food chains to upscale, “white tablecloth" dining establishments. Robert can be reached at 212-338-2324 or by email at robert.fiorito@hubinternational.com. For more information on HUB, please visit www.hubinternational.com.