Friday, November 30, 2012

Employee Benefits: Improving Plan Success and Adding Variety with Voluntary Products (Winter 2012)

employee benefits program
Employee benefits can help contribute to increased employee loyalty to your organization.  However, in order for benefits to help build loyalty, these benefits must be well communicated and well understood among employees.  Here are a few suggestions for utilizing effective communication to improve the success of your benefits program:
  • Develop a communications strategy and get it in writing.  Identify the goals you wish to accomplish and make sure your strategy works towards meeting those goals.
  • Establish a reasonable communications budget.  Identify how the funds in the budget should be used to meet the goals of the communications strategy. 
  • Trim communication costs by reducing or eliminating the use of traditional print and postal delivery methods and utilize less costly methods such as social media, podcasts, video, and email.  Using a variety of venues will also help you to reach your employees more effectively as many of them may have different preferred methods of communication.
  • Utilize communication venues that are already in place such as an internal company website or newsletter.
  • Communicate year round with your employees.  Don’t wait until open enrollment to start telling your employees about all of the great features of your health plan.  Establish a set schedule that lasts throughout the year with the goal of informing and reminding employees about the plan.  Frequent communication can also be helpful in motivating employees to participate in your company wellness program.

Voluntary benefits
Studies indicate that employees have a positive perception of voluntary benefit programs: 
  • More than half of employees (52 percent) are interested in being able to choose and pay for voluntary benefit options.
  • About 66 percent of employees indicate that voluntary benefits increases the overall value of their benefits.
This newsletter includes information on voluntary benefits. If you are looking for a low-cost, easily administered benefits option to supplement your current program, voluntary benefits might be right for you.


Benefits plan, voluntary benefits
Voluntary benefit plans are one way you can add variety to your benefits program without increasing the cost to your company.  Offering voluntary benefits gives you as the employer the ability to offer your employees some degree of choice and customization.  Voluntary benefits are employee-paid products that include a variety of health and non-health type options.

Voluntary benefit plans actually date back to as early as the 1950s when they were known as payroll deduction or salary-savings plans.  Though they have been around for a while, they are increasing in popularity with recent changes in the benefits environment.  In addition, as more insurance companies enter the market for voluntary benefits, there are improved technologies and enhanced products, resulting in better offerings at a lower cost.  

Voluntary benefits are available through employer-sponsored plans.  Employers are able to leverage group purchasing power to provide these products and services to their employees at rates the employees wouldn’t be able to access individually.  Voluntary benefits are a great tool for attracting new employee talent and retaining current employees.  Amid cost cutting measures and cutbacks in company-paid health care, voluntary benefits provide employers an option for rounding out employee benefits options.

Employees who sign up for voluntary benefits usually pay for 100 percent of the premium through payroll deduction.  Most employers do not contribute to the cost of the coverage.

These products are affordable and are popular benefits your employees can take advantage of any time throughout the year, not just when they are sick.  To learn more about voluntary benefits, please contact your Leavitt Group insurance consultant.

Types of  voluntary benefits:
  • Life insurance – this is often cited as one of the most popular voluntary benefit options
  • Critical illness
  • Cancer insurance
  • Accident insurance
  • Hospital plan
  • Short-term and long-term disability
  • Health-related discount products which don’t require medical underwriting, including dental, vision, hearing, tele-medicine, pharmacy, vitamins, lab and imaging services, and diabetic supplies
  • Non-health-related discount products such as pet care, legal access, travel services, roadside assistance, identity theft protection, and mortgage programs