These days, employers are looking for a silver bullet when it comes to their employee benefits package. I get it. Costs are going up year after year and even with the new administration, there is no end in sight. Administration of benefits plans is at an all-time high as well. If you’re an HR professional, just think for a minute about how much time you spend fixing enrollment errors, compliance issues and other reactive processes vs. helping your company hire the right talent to move the business in the right direction. The sad reality is that HR departments have become so reactive due to regulatory requirements that they’re not able to see the issue. That issue is that their plan offerings are uncompetitive and their employees are unhappy and disengaged. However, voluntary products have become a great product to offer employees and help increase goodwill towards employees. Here are a few reasons why you should offer them.
Employees want them
According to a recent study by Aflac, 88% of employees say they consider voluntary products to be a part of a well-rounded employee benefits package. Not only do employees want these products but 76% of employees who have voluntary products consider themselves satisfied with their overall benefit package. That’s a pretty significant chunk of employees and if you can ensure the majority of your staff is happy and secure then you know they’ll be more productive and when they come to work. When you really think about it, the logic is simple. Out of pocket expenses have gone up and up over the last 10 years (to the tune of 230%!) and employees feel vulnerable. Most employers have not engaged voluntary because they don’t truly understand it but when done properly, these plans will raise employee morale faster than a pay raise.
Well, not completely free. But, most voluntary benefits are offered with no employer contribution. The reason employers don’t pay for them is because most employees view these products as something uniquely offered by their employer and perceive that they have a discount when they work for you. This is true by the way. Most of these products are not available outside of a group setting and if they are, they cost significantly more than when you offer them through your company. And not only can these products be offered at no cost to the company, when you offer them pre-tax you can actually save on your taxes for the year.
You can sneak in employee engagement
One of the biggest issues we see when it comes to offering voluntary is the fact that employers don’t understand what the products are and don’t take meaningful steps to educate the employees. And when the employees don’t understand, they won’t buy. That’s a big problem. If these products have the opportunity to build such goodwill for your employees then it’s definitely worth the time investment to make sure they’re educated.
When done properly, a voluntary benefits roll out encompasses ALL of your employee benefits. The voluntary products you offer to your employees should complement your medical, dental and other plan offerings to help round out the gaps that exist in your package. Hosting an engagement meeting with employees to review the medical plan, discuss it’s gaps and pitfalls and then discuss the products you have that help cover those gaps gives employees a much more detailed view of their benefits package overall. When you consider that over half of employees say they don’t understand their benefits and need help making decisions you can see how a simple meeting like this can go a long way. And, in the process you’ll have a much more successful voluntary strategy with a much higher participation rate from your employees. And that means your employees will be happier!
As we said at the beginning of this article, there is no magic bullet to cure the headaches that have arisen surrounding employee benefits. But, employing a successful voluntary strategy is a great place to start.