More than 300 companies bought group income protection for their employees in 2015, an increase of 20 per cent from 2014.
According to Unum, 300,000 more employees were covered for income protection by the end of 2014 than in 2011, making a total of 2.1m covered.
Peter O’Donnell, chief executive of Unum, said there was still room for the market to grow.
Mr O’Donnell said: “From our own research it appears that the battle for talent is a catalyst in driving this change. The world of work has changed enormously over the last few years.
“Developments in technology, attitudes and society have influenced significantly how we work, and also the make-up of the workforce.
“Employees expect more than just a competitive salary from their employer, and a third would consider leaving their job due to poor workplace wellbeing.
“An effective way for companies to demonstrate they have their employees’ interests front and centre is a comprehensive benefits package.”
Mr O’Donnell said this was particularly true for new companies less than five years old that want the best talent to succeed, embrace a fresh approach and take on board new ideas.
Such companies see the value of building a place to work in order to attract the right employees, and realising leadership, culture, working practices and employee benefits are needed to make this happen, he said.
Industries like IT, retail, high tech manufacturing and consultancies where employees are central to the success of the business are particularly attuned to this approach, according to Mr O’Donnell.
Mr O’Donnell added: “The time is right for brokers to discuss employee benefits with their clients and work with them to find the most effective package that suits the needs of their staff, both now and for the future.”
Tom Binstead, executive consultant at Kellands (Gloucester), said auto-enrolment may have also been the cause of the surge in sales.
Mr Binstead said: “One factor that may not have been considered is the fact that auto-enrolment has focused employers’ attention on employee benefits.
“A lot of employers are looking at pensions so are now considering the wider benefits.”