From ChamberChoice & Smart Business Pittsburgh
Voluntary benefits are in high demand as employers recognize that a robust benefits portfolio helps them meet the diverse coverage needs within today’s workforce. The demand is also driven by the popularity of employee choice and low cost.
“There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to meeting the needs of a multiple-generational workforce. Competition is fierce when recruiting and retaining the best talent. This makes voluntary benefits a must-have in today’s employee benefits packages,” says Michael Orangis, sales executive at JRG Advisors. “By offering a spectrum of coverage options, employers send the message, ‘We listen, we care and our company is worth working for.’”
Smart Business spoke with Orangis about how voluntary coverage options can enhance your overall benefits program.
What do companies need to know about voluntary benefits?
Voluntary benefits have proven to be a popular, cost-effective method for an employer to offer a broad palette of benefits that provide employees choice. These types of benefits feature guaranteed issue and simple enrollment. And because premiums are paid through employee payroll deduction, there are no checks to write, making these benefits easy to administer.
Further, difficult economic times in the wake of rising health care costs mean tough health plan design choices for business owners. For many, adding voluntary benefits to compensate for benefits cutbacks elsewhere or to enrich a health plan with a high deductible makes good sense.
How do these benefits work?
With a voluntary benefits portfolio, employees are encouraged to focus on their coverage and affordability needs. Instead of employer-sponsored group accident, critical illness, disability, life, vision and dental insurance, business owners see the wisdom of providing these benefits on a voluntary, a-la-carte basis for employees to choose.
Not only will offering voluntary benefits cost employers virtually nothing, it will also help to level the playing field with competing employers. And, employees gain access to unique types of insurance coverage at group rates that are lower in cost than buying on their own.
What should an employer consider when offering voluntary benefits?
First, employers must show their support for the benefits program if they want the employees to see the value of voluntary benefits for themselves and their families.
An employer should talk to employees to help determine what offerings would be most useful. Employers need to carefully examine their current benefits package to determine which benefits are popular and those that are not. Most importantly, employers need to determine the type(s) of voluntary benefits that offer the most value for the lowest cost. This is crucial to the success of the voluntary benefits program.
As the program is implemented, education is key. Employers should educate employees on what voluntary plans are available and the benefits of enrolling. Employers also should follow up with employees on a regular basis throughout the plan year to ensure they are satisfied, there are no problems and that no changes need to be made with the plans offered.
In the end, voluntary benefits are special because they meet the specific needs of the valued workforce. Employers can easily offer these benefits and keep costs down, while enhancing the complete package of benefits and coverages. Employees are able to make informed selections of benefits that meet their unique needs, ultimately increasing their engagement and satisfaction with the benefits program.