Your Voluntary Benefits Plan: 6 Keys to Success


Posted by: Altura Benefits in Insurance

Voluntary Benefits Plan

It’s becoming clear that employee benefit packages are not a one-size-fits-all solution. The modern workforce is diverse, and this means that employee benefit needs are also diverse. Paying for every benefit under the sun can become an expensive endeavor, however, and many employers may not be able to afford to go this route. Voluntary benefits offer a solution, and with the right strategy, employees can experience voluntary benefits success.

Employee Benefits Are More Important Than Ever

Employees care about benefits. In fact, Joblist found that 54% of job seekers would consider taking a lower-paying job if it came with a better benefits package. Joblist also found that 67% of job seekers say that benefits are more important to them now than they were before the pandemic, and 80% of job seekers think employers need to re-evaluate their benefit offerings.

The simple truth is that if employers fail to offer the benefits that employees want, employees might look elsewhere for job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in March 2022. That’s a series high, but elevated quit rates have been going on for a while now. Workers are dissatisfied, and they’re looking for better opportunities.

Offering a strong employee benefits package can help employers attract and retain in-demand workers. At the same time, finding the right benefits to meet all employee needs can be challenging when different workers need different things, and covering all of these benefits can get prohibitively expensive for employers. Adding voluntary benefits can be the perfect solution.

The Appeal of Voluntary Benefits

Voluntary benefits, sometimes called supplemental benefits, can include a wide variety of benefits that are offered to employees via the employer. If an employee chooses to enroll in a voluntary benefit, he or she may be responsible for paying the full cost, often via payroll deductions. However, sometimes the employer agrees to pay a portion.

This situation can work well for both the employer and the employee. The employee can benefit from discounted group rates, thereby obtaining coverage at a better price than would be otherwise possible. Qualifying for coverage can also be easier, especially when it comes to disability insurance, life insurance and other insurance products that normally require medical underwriting. Additionally, the payroll deductions make paying for coverage very convenient, and some benefits may qualify for pre-tax deduction. Meanwhile, the employer is able to offer a robust benefit package without increasing costs significantly.

Disability, Vision and Dental Insurance:
Common Voluntary Offerings

Some voluntary benefits are fairly common, and employees at medium to large companies may even expect some or all of these options. Common voluntary benefits include:

  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Term Life Insurance
  • Hospital Indemnity Insurance
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Short-Term Disability Insurance

Pet Insurance and Other Less Common Offerings

Other voluntary benefits are unique and highly differentiating. Employees may not expect to see these benefit offerings at all companies, and the companies that do offer them may stand out.

Some less common voluntary benefits to consider include:

  • Pet Insurance: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 38.4% of households own a dog and 25.4% of households own a cat. Veterinary care can be expensive, and pet owners often struggle to afford unexpected care. This makes pet insurance a highly attractive benefit for many pet owners.
  • Identity Theft Protection: The Internet Crime Complaint Center received 51,629 reports of identity theft in 2021, up from 43,330 in 2020 and 16,053 in 2019. As identity theft increases, this benefit is becoming more and more important.
  • Fertility Benefits: IVF and other fertility procedures can be expensive. Some employers have been offering fertility benefits to help cover these costs, and this can be extremely attractive to employees interested in having children.
  • Student Loan Debt Repayment: According to Student Loan Hero, U.S. student loan debt has reached around $1.75 trillion. Among people who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2020, 55% have student loans, and the average debt is $28,400.

Offering Voluntary Benefits

Offering a voluntary benefits plan is a great way to let employees customize their own benefit package. It can also ensure that workers get the benefits they need without paying for benefits they don’t need.

There is one catch.

Many employees don’t actually understand their benefits. According to HR Executive, data from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans indicates that 80% of employees never open benefits communications.

Health insurance and retirement plans can be complicated enough. When you add in an array of voluntary benefits, the situation can get even more complicated, and some employees may feel overwhelmed. If they don’t understand their benefits, they may not use them or even enroll in them.

The good news is that modern technology makes it easier to boost employee engagement regarding benefits. Even if you’ve experienced low participation rates in the past, it is possible to create a successful voluntary benefits program.

How to Create a Successful Voluntary Benefits Program

There’s no point in offering benefits that go unused. The goal is to boost employee satisfaction, and that can’t happen unless employees get the benefits they want and are able to use them.

The following tips can help you craft a successful voluntary benefits program:

  1. Determine which benefits your workers want. This will likely include many, if not all of the common voluntary benefit offerings, such as life insurance, disability insurance, critical illness insurance, vision care and dental care. It will probably also include some of the less common benefits, such as pet insurance and identity theft protection. Different benefits will appeal to different workers based on their age, family needs and other circumstances. The larger and more diverse your workforce demographics, the wider the range of useful benefits.
  2. Make it easy for employees to engage with their benefits. Many workers ignore the large packets of dense materials that HR teams like to send. Instead of wasting paper on packets that no one will read, explore modern administration tools and employee navigators that make it easy for employees to learn about and enroll in their benefits.
  3. Plan your open enrollment period. Time flies when you’re busy. The open enrollment period can go by fast, so it’s important to plan ahead of time. Include a variety of educational elements, possibly including one-on-one sessions, group discussions, email reminders, text messages and virtual tutorials that help employees understand the benefits available and remember to enroll on time.
  4. Don’t forget about benefits after enrollment. Benefits tend to get a lot of attention during the open enrollment period, but what about the rest of the year? Send out reminders that help employees make use of the benefits they’ve chosen. New employees will also need to learn about the benefits available to them.
  5. Reassess your offerings. The offerings that worked well a few years ago might not be sufficient anymore. Maybe new and better benefits have become available, or maybe the needs of your workforce have changed. If your workers’ needs are going unmet, or if benefit participation levels are dropping, you may need to think about changing things up.
  6. Partner with an experienced employee benefits broker. The right broker can help you build a successful employee benefits package that includes health insurance as well as various voluntary benefits. A broker might be able to find solutions you hadn’t thought of while keeping your costs under control.

How Altura Can Help Your Voluntary Benefits Plan Succeed

Do you need to put together a winning employee benefits package? Altura Benefits can help you discover voluntary benefits success. We have strong relationships with major insurance companies and can help you find ideal solutions for your unique needs. Better yet, our Employee Navigator platform takes the hassle out voluntary benefits enrollment so employees can quickly and easily sign up online without taking time away from your HR team. We also offer HR and compliance support. Learn more.