5 Ways Employers Can Get Most Value from Voluntary Benefits

September 14, 20158:00 am612 views

With benefit plans being a key tool in an employer’s recruitment and retention strategies, voluntary benefits are popular because employees can choose products that complement their company-sponsored core benefits and round-out a benefit portfolio that suits their individual needs.

A comprehensive and well thought-out benefits package shows employees that their company cares about them as an individual. In the past, employers included a few voluntary benefits in the employee benefits package, such as a medical supplemental policy, accident policy or disability policy, for those employees interested in complementing their standard benefit package.

“Voluntary benefits can enhance employees’ lives, allowing them to acquire products and services they might not otherwise be able to afford, and further their personal improvement and financial well-being,” Elizabeth Halkos, Chief Revenue Officer explains.

Once considered just a “nice extra,” today voluntary benefits – both traditional and non-traditional – are considered an essential element in the benefit program most employers use to attract and retain employees.

In a recent white paper by Purchasing Power titled, “Benefits That Matter: Five Ways Employers Can Get the Most Value from Voluntary Benefits,” here are five essential tips for employers to enhance their voluntary benefit offerings:

  1. Offer an array of voluntary benefits in your employee benefits package

Meeting the multi-generational and diversity needs of your workforce is important today and voluntary benefits aren’t one-size-fits-all. Employees have varying needs and they want a variety of benefits from which to choose.

The more voluntary benefit options employees have, the happier and more loyal they are. This sends a strong message to employers to offer a variety of voluntary benefits allowing today’s diverse workforce to choose the ones that will help them the most.

The variety of voluntary benefits offered by employers should include both traditional and non-traditional products. The five most frequently sold traditional voluntary products are term life insurance, short-term disability, dental insurance, accident insurance (personal injury, not AD&D) and critical illness insurance.

  1. Leverage the vital recruitment and retention role that voluntary benefits play

Organizations that value their employees provide a great benefit package to retain those employees. At the same time, the benefits package is under scrutiny by potential employees. Recruitment and retention of all generations in the workforce is important and, thus, a company’s benefits package, including voluntary benefits, is crucial to stand out from the pack. It is particularly significant for millennials.

Compensation and benefits packages will be the strongest driver in determining the next career move of millennials and employers will need to step their game up if they are committed to attracting and retaining quality talent.

See: Employee Benefits: Can Creative Benefits Make Up For Lack Of Cash?

  1. Include non-traditional voluntary benefits to guarantee customization

Today’s diverse workforce spans three generations (Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers) who look at work, life, money and finances in totally different ways and thus have varying benefits needs and preferences.

Non-traditional voluntary benefits provide options for employees’ diverse needs. From pet insurance to cyber-security insurance, from elder care to legal plans, from employee purchase programs to identity theft protection – there’s something for everyone. The ability to choose benefits that meet their life-stage needs is something employees want.

Non-traditional voluntary benefits that directly or indirectly improve employees’ financial wellness should be part of an employers’ offerings and ones in which more employees will participate.

  1. Tailor communications to help employees understand everything that’s available to them to make wise benefit decisions

Understanding benefits isn’t always easy. With employees taking on more responsibility for their benefit decisions, they need to be confident in their choices and in their understanding of the available benefit options.

Incorporating personalized benefit messages reflecting employee life stages and events throughout the year, and offering educational tools and channels preferred by employees, can help make sure workers receive the benefits information they need to make better purchasing decisions.

Employees need benefit offerings to be communicated in a language they understand. Customized marketing materials reflecting the languages and nuances associated with different ethnicities also may be effective.

Considering that benefits plans are a crucial segment of recruitment and retention efforts, it is also paramount that HR professionals communicate the advantages of these benefits to employees as often as possible.

  1. Utilize data and technology effectively to provide more efficient voluntary benefit programs

Employers usually focus on employee demographics to evaluate voluntary benefit offerings, but using data analytics to more specifically target employees’ leads to better success in creating an appropriate voluntary package.

Using an advanced analytical approach, creating an employer benefits profile report through an employer profile analysis, employee segmentation and predictive modelling can yield higher business value and a better employee experience.

From a technology standpoint, benefit portals and benefit enrolment platforms not only help simplify administration for employers, but improve access for employees.

In conclusion

Voluntary benefits are a way for employers to demonstrate that they value their employees and the benefits package they offer without incurring a heavy financial burden. Improving benefits communications and utilizing benefit portals and enrolment platforms mean better employee engagement.

With continued engagement, employee satisfaction grows and is reflected in the level of participation, bolstering the employer’s recruitment and retention objectives.

Also read: Benefits Cost Management in Asia Pacific: Value Perception among Employees

Image credit: flickr.com

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