You know voluntary benefits can help boost employee satisfaction, but where should you start? Ensuring you offer the right kind of voluntary benefits will help you get the most out of the entire benefits package. These tips will put you on the path to offering voluntary benefits your employees will take advantage of — and value.
One of the main purposes of voluntary benefits is to provide coverage where core benefits fall short. This is seen most often in health benefits, with voluntary benefits covering costs that core benefits don’t or adding onto coverage. If you look into voluntary health benefits, ensure they fill gaps, says Darren Ambler, managing director at Insight Insurance Agency. “It is very important that employers offer voluntary benefits that complement existing programs so that no overlap occurs.” Duplication can result in offsetting benefits as opposed to enhancing them.
Work With Your Vendor
Your insurance partner will likely have plenty of information to help you assemble voluntary benefits that your employees will value, depending on demographics. Older employees, for example, may be interested in eldercare benefits, while younger employees starting families could be a good target for life insurance. When in doubt, survey employees to see what they would like.
Stefanie Lewis, marketing coordinator at Transwestern, says that throughout the year, the company works with its benefits brokers and third-party administrators to determine what competitive plans are available, how they would work with current offerings and their benefit to employees. For example, a year after the company switched to a high-deductible health savings account plan, its benefits broker suggested adding accident and critical illness insurance options to supplement the medical plan coverage.
Consider Popular Benefits
According to a Towers Watson report on voluntary benefits, the most prevalent options include life, disability, vision, dental and accident insurance. That plays out with what benefits managers see, as well. James Kinney, national integrated benefits practice leader at Digital Insurance, agrees that short-term disability, accident and critical illness are the most popular voluntary health benefits for his company’s clients.
Ambler also says he’s seen life, disability and dental insurance programs as the most popular voluntary benefits. There is also growth in accident insurance, and cancer and other critical illness plans. “These plans provide benefits that help to offset costs associated with medical bills and losses in income resulting from an accident or severe illness such as cancer,” Ambler says. Other programs that are growing include vision benefits, identity protection, legal support, and auto and home insurance.
Transwestern offers a variety of voluntary benefits to its employees, and its most popular are the supplemental life and short-term disability insurance options, Lewis says. The company also offers an employee discount program, a legal plan, supplemental life insurance and others.
The most important issues to address when implementing voluntary benefits are how and when you roll them out to employees, Ambler says. “The success of the program will be based on employee participation, and if the employer does not provide the appropriate communication and enrollment model, the program will likely fail,” Ambler says. Open enrollment periods for group medical and other benefits are not the ideal time to roll out voluntary benefits, as employees are likely to be focused on their core benefits at that time, and only a few employees will pay attention to voluntary benefits.