Four Ways to Help Your Clients Discover the Value in Voluntary Benefits

By Dennis Healy

As employers breathe a collective sigh of relief after open enrollment and head towards the new year, it’s time to nail down their benefit strategies for 2020. Providing voluntary benefits—those that go beyond the traditional medical, dental and life insurance—is generally agreed upon as a good thing to ramp up benefit offerings. But explaining the “how” will help your clients discover that adding the right voluntary benefits enhances an overall strategy.
Here are four ways you can show how voluntary benefits add value:

  1. They serve as a multi-purpose tool to attract and retain employees.

With monthly job openings hovering around 7 million, coupled with unemployment rates that recently reached a 50-year low, it’s still an employee market. Employers need innovative ways to differentiate themselves so they can attract and retain workers. This is your opportunity to offer them that direction,  which can also deepen your relationships and increase your revenues.

That’s where offering the right mix of voluntary benefits comes in. In fact, personnel who were given optional elections were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less likely to be searching for a new one, according to a survey conducted by Aflac. The Aflac survey showed that 70% indicated they would sign up for extra offerings if they were presented.
Employers are starting to meet the demand for these perks. Consider this: 80% of large organizations who responded to the Willis Towers Watson’s 2018 Emerging Trends: Voluntary Benefits and Services Survey believe in the importance of voluntary benefits, with 95% saying they’ll be an essential part of their total compensation package in three years. About two-thirds of the respondents use these add-ons to attract new employees and retain staff. And finally, more than 75% of the companies surveyed like voluntary benefits for their ability to provide personalized options to staff, allowing for tailoring to different generational or income brackets.

These facts all add up to compelling reasons why voluntary benefits, based on their versatility and attractive traits, can play an integral role in your clients’ strategy.

  1. They enhance employees’ overall well-being.

On the employer side, there has been a huge national push for physical and financial wellness initiatives. Employers are recognizing the increased stress their employees deal with and are looking for solutions to not only help their workforce cope, but ultimately help them be more productive.
Voluntary benefits attractive to today’s workers take a holistic approach to their overall well-being and address pertinent employee financial and personal needs. These can include:

  • Financial planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Legal insurance plans

When these benefits offer cost savings and other attributes that employees value, like reduced stress and time savings, it could prove especially appealing to workers. Financial wellness programs are another popular benefit that can help with huge financial stressors like student loans, debt consolidation and tax issues.
Additionally, a National Law Journal survey of employees with a legal insurance plan found that they saved $2,065 on average per legal issue. Ninety percent felt that having legal insurance reduced their stress—and saved them an average of 8.5 hours—when dealing with legal issues.

  1. They meet employees where they are in life.

Voluntary benefits packages need to meet the needs of a wide range of people and continue to evolve to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce. Everyone likes to have options, but millennials in particular want to choose from an array of products. A wide variety of options allows employees to customize their plan to their individual needs. For instance, younger employees may prefer student loan repayment assistance, while workers in their 30s might want help with buying a home or starting a family. Older staff could find long-term care insurance or help with retirement planning appealing.
Legal insurance benefits plans are gaining popularity because they offer multiple services that provide value to employees at all life stages. On top of the more common legal issues one might expect from this type of plan, like trusts, wills, divorce, etc., legal insurance plans may also provide assistance with other issues such as credit monitoring and identity theft protection, financial counseling, immigration assistance, caregiving support and tax services.

  1. They provide extra value—without the added cost.

Employees are faced with a multitude of benefit options, all literally competing for their “wallet share.” The benefits that will win loyalty are those that present quality offerings— both in their richness and an exceptional customer experience—at a reasonable price.
It can be a tricky proposition for employers. They’re now tasked with providing more choices in this “on-demand” world that so many employees (especially millennials) are used to. Employees want to have more control when it comes to deciding which options are useful. And they’re asking for a benefits package that can be more personalized to them, so they feel like they are truly benefiting from what they are paying for.
Employers can help their employees determine which products are relevant to their lives and will provide a good return on investment before they spend their hard-earned dollars. This can be done by intranet and email communications. Adding in-person meetings will offer employees an opportunity to ask more in-depth questions.
Technology can be helpful here as well. For example, MyChoice℠ by Businessolver® is a streamlined, easy-to-use tool that provides recommendations on the benefits that are right for individuals based on their responses to a group of personalized questions. And these customizations pay off for employers. An Aflac survey found that employees who were offered voluntary benefits were 19% more likely to be satisfied with their job—and 14% less likely to be job searching.

What’s this all mean for you when you meet with your clients to ring in the new benefit year? As interest in voluntary benefits increases, explaining the “how” behind the value delivered will help your clients get the most out of their voluntary benefits by zeroing in on what their employees really want. After all, offering the products that deliver the strongest price-to-value proposition and a quality customer experience is bound to give you an edge for your consulting or brokerage business.

Dennis Healy is a member of the ARAG executive team.