Employers Get Creative with Tight Budgets….

Voluntary benefits are on the rise, but why is that the trend we are seeing?  The economy is in recovery, but it is and will continue to be a slow climb up a very tall mountain.  Company belts have not loosened and with the overall impact of healthcare reform still uncertain, it still may be quite some time before they let those belts out a notch or two.

According to HR Daily Report, this is why more employers are looking at Voluntary Benefits as a lower-cost incentive to attract new and retain existing talent.  Employers are taking to offering employees everything from auto and home insurance to legal plans or even pet insurance.  All of these being growing trends in employers looking to stay competitive.  That’s the assertion at a recent presentation at the 2011 Health Care Benefits NY conference.  Outlined in the course of that presentation was a list of the most popular group voluntary benefits, now and in the future.

Most popular now included:

  • life insurance
  • disability (long and short-term plans), and
  • vision plans
Projected to be the most popular in the future:
  • long-term care
  • legal plans, and
  • auto and home insurance
There is one secret to success however, according to experts on the subject.  The success of your voluntary benefits program has absolutely nothing to do with WHAT you are offering, but rather HOW you are offering it!  The biggest tip to success is to be sure that your company sets up a payroll deduction for employees to participate.  This accomplishes two goals.  One, it helps employees sock away the money to cover the costs of premiums, etc, and two, it further reinforces with employees that your company endorses that specific benefits plan.
So the question still hangs as to why these types of benefits are the growing trend, especially when employees are paying for these benefits themselves?  For one, organizations can get group rates, allowing employees the chance to obtain these benefits less expensive than if they went and shopped for rates on their own.  Disability and life insurance are benefits companies may be offering already.  However, companies are now taking a closer look at enriching these benefit packages.  “Not only does offering voluntary benefits cost employers virtually nothing and help level the benefits playing field with much larger companies, it also affords employees access to various types of insurance coverage, typically with looser underwriting requirements and at group rates that are lower than is they went out and got the coverage on their own,” explains Entrepreneur.com.
So how much savings potential for employees are we really talking about and how?
  • Because it provides protection against lost income, disability insurance (short and long-term) is perhaps the most popular voluntary benefit today.
  • The financial security afforded by life insurance makes it an especially popular voluntary benefit in uncertain economic times.  While term life is still most prevalent, a “fight to qualify” among employers and employees is making permanent life insurance more popular.
  • Voluntary dental insurance holds great appeal to both employees and employers because you can design plans so that it is not very expensive.
  • Relatively new among voluntary benefits, supplemental limited-benefit plans that provide a set dollar amount per day for hospital stays are gaining popularity, as are gap insurance policies that pay a certain amount up to a deductible.
  • More targeted in their coverage, but also appealing, especially to small businesses with high-deductible plans, are supplemental accident insurance and critical illness insurance.
Bottom line is that voluntary benefits can help keep your employees happy with little to no effect on your budget.  That is the type of Win-Win scenario that most companies in today’s economy jump on.  If your organization already includes these types of benefits, be sure that they are being highlighted as part of your recruitment strategy.  Just because the employee ultimately covers the costs, doesn’t mean that the accessibility of the benefits isn’t very valuable.  Voluntary or now, you should utilize any perks or benefits your organization provides to set you apart from the competition!


Fairmount Benefits Company

Two Radnor Corporate Center
Suite 110
Radnor, PA 19087

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