How employers are simplifying voluntary benefits

How employers are simplifying voluntary benefits

Have you embraced supplemental benefit plans as a key part of your company’s benefits strategy? If all the survey data is accurate, employees are expecting employers to provide them with a variety of benefit plan choices that suit their unique lifestyles.

Historically, supplemental benefits have been difficult for employers to manage because adding more benefit options has typically meant adding more providers, and that has meant increasing the number of websites to visit and passwords to remember. Today, employers are looking for their administrators to create a one-stop ‘supplemental benefits shop’ so employees can easily shop, enroll and consume them.

We frequently hear about this challenge from our clients. That’s why many employers are trying to help by offering more holistic, integrated supplemental benefits packages to their workforces – an approach that has growing appeal.

Delivering supplemental benefits that are easy to understand and easy to digest offer employers several upsides: It improves employee engagement. It attracts and retains top talent. In fact, according to MetLife’s 14th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study,  70% of employees say that benefits that can be customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employers.

The MetLife research is supported by other findings. For example, the 2015 Aflac® WorkForces Report found that 59% of employees said they are likely to take a job with slightly lower pay but a more robust benefits package.

For employees, the pros keep outweighing the cons. With multiple generations in the workforce, there’s no more one-size-fits-all plan. Supplemental benefits allow employees to manage all aspects of their lives from one place. For example, new programs provide employees with the opportunity to pay their utilities via payroll deduction and even buy insurance to protect their pets, in addition to the traditional offerings like long-term disability and pre-paid legal services.

But there’s a new twist. According to the MetLife study, 62% of employees agree that they’re looking for employers to help them achieve financial security through employee benefits. The study also says that half of employees strongly agree that because of the benefits they receive at work, they worry less about unexpected health and financial issues.

Now more than ever, supplemental benefits are helping provide employees with a financial safety net for unexpected medical expenses. Employees see supplemental benefits as an opportunity to gain access to financial protection against catastrophic life events. Benefits covering critical illness and accidents are gaining popularity as ways to bridge the increasing out-of-pocket costs not paid by traditional health insurance coverage.

Let’s face it: We all love the “point and click” experience our HR systems deliver to mimic the consumer experience we have when we find the perfect gift online. Who wouldn’t love a benefits shopping experience that makes finding the perfect plans for their family just as simple?

Simple and fun is great. But interestingly, while today’s benefits packages offer employees more benefits choices, more choices have meant that employees have more responsibility for managing the potential financial impacts those choices may incur. And that’s making them nervous.

Prudential®’s Ninth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond reports that employees see the value of their overall employee benefits program rising as supplemental benefits are added. But they sometimes resist buying them as their responsibility for managing the financial aspects of the plan grows.

The bottom line? There’s a tremendous opportunity here for employers to structure their benefits packages in a way that offers additional support to their workforces. As the Prudential reports says: “The workplace continues to be the primary source for employees to obtain most insurance products. It’s worth it for employers to educate their employees and offer [supplemental] benefits that can help them meet their needs.”

Your benefits package might play a bigger role in your businesses’ success than you think. Enhancing your benefit offerings could be as simple as adding one-stop supplemental benefits that not only round out your offering, but address the growing need to help employees accommodate the diversity in their lives.