Offering employees voluntary benefits is a way to set your company apart from competitors as the job market continues to thrive. For companies large and small, health & welfare benefits can be used to attract new talent and, importantly, retain the talent you have by offering nontraditional benefits beyond typical health insurance.
The variety of voluntary benefits has increased steadily over the last several years. This is in part due to the wider age range of employees in the workforce. Some businesses employ up to four generations of workers, all with different needs.
A younger worker, for example, might be interested in health & welfare benefits that complement a high deductible plan by covering out-of-pocket cash expenses, or student loan repayment benefits that help them pay down debt that averages over $37,000 per person for new college grads1. On the other hand, a company with an older demographic might be interested in a health & welfare benefits package that preserves assets for retirement, such as permanent life solutions or long-term care benefits. What’s the common denominator among all generations? They’re animal lovers. That’s why pet insurance is one of the most popular voluntary benefits offered today.
Voluntary benefits have increased over the last several years.
But determining the right mix of voluntary benefits requires research to ensure you’re offerings meet employees’ needs. While it might seem like a hefty task, eliminating complexity with a simple survey is the best way to get feedback from employees.
Start with one question: “Could we do a better job by providing voluntary benefits?” If more than 20-30% of employees respond with a “yes,” follow up with another short survey.
The first question in next survey should be, “What is the benefit that you want or need most,” or “what is missing from our benefit portfolio offering?” When it comes to health & welfare benefits, a “need” typically predicates a “want.” Next, ask employees to rank voluntary benefits in order of importance. These could range anywhere from accident, critical illness, vision, dental, disability and long-term care benefits to student loan repayment, pet insurance, financial counseling, enhanced employee assistance program plans, legal plans and group medical bridge coverage.
The results of this ranking survey can help you determine which voluntary benefits you offer.
Obviously, when surveying your employees, a higher response rate will give you better direction on which benefits to offer your employees. There are a couple of proven ways to get a better response. Conducting the survey electronically makes it easier for employees to complete it and provides better tracking capabilities than a paper survey.
Creating an email campaign with several touch points as reminders and an including an incentive can also increase response rates.
Finally, after you’ve added voluntary benefits to your core offering, make sure employees know what’s available to them. It’s not enough to give them a packet on their first day on the job letting them know that you offer long-term care benefits or pet insurance, for example. Those forms will get lost in the mix of more time-sensitive needs like filling out a W-4 or direct deposit forms. The same goes for open enrollment.
Information is key. Create employee education & communications campaigns to reach your audience with push messages, emails and intranet messages. You’ll see higher utilization rates and employees who are happier, healthier and enjoy a more flexible work environment.
And in the battle to attract the best talent, a happy and healthy workforce is often the best recruiting tool.
1 “10 Student Loan Facts College Grads Need to Know,” USA Today
- The Myth about ‘Mandatory Participation’ in Voluntary Benefits
- The Bridge Between Benefit Choice and Cost Control
- Ending the “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo” of Benefits Choice at Open Enrollment with Decision Support Tools
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