Voluntary benefits are like the fashion trend that has come back in vogue - but with a new twist. Voluntary benefits have been around for over half a century and are a tried and tested way to help your employees fill a wide range of gaps in their core coverage. However, if you have not reviewed available options lately, you may be surprised by the changes and the variety of offerings in today's marketplace.

What's Tried and Tested?

You may be very familiar with traditional products like life and disability, which are a solid addition to almost any employee benefits package. Typically, employers offer coverage through one of the following options:

  • As a supplement to employer-paid basic coverage
  • As an employee-pay-all option

Core benefits like dental and vision, which have remained consistently popular with employees, are increasingly moving from an employer-paid benefit to a voluntary, employee-pay-all benefit. 

The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) requirements and the prevalence of high-deductible plans have rejuvenated voluntary gap coverage benefits by helping employees cope with rising out-of-pocket costs.  Gap coverage products include the following:

  • Critical illness and cancer insurance offer a benefit for specified conditions
  • Accident insurance provides specified benefits for covered accidents
  • Hospital indemnity plans pay benefits for hospital confinement for covered conditions

What's New?

If you ever tried to push your fashion sense on a teenager, you understand employees' resistance to employers offering one-size-fits-all benefits.

If you want your employees to make better benefits choices, you need to offer them an employee benefits package they can customize to their needs.  Changes to voluntary benefits help meet that goal.

You can create more attractive benefit options for your employees by offering more flexibility in product design.  Following are just a few examples of benefit options available from carriers:

  • Accident insurance: Optional AD&D, disability income, and hospital confinement benefits
  • Critical illness: Benefits for recurrence of same condition, restored benefit for a second covered condition, and wellness benefits for annual screenings

Some carriers also accommodate customization of covered conditions in their policies, which allows you to create benefits more suited to the needs of your employee population.

The combination of tried and tested voluntary products with an implementation of new design changes and non-traditional voluntary products complements your strategy to engage your employees more fully in their benefits decisions.  Surveys show that being able to choose from a variety of benefits elevates employee satisfaction, which helps you in your retention and recruitment efforts.

Add Your Own Twist

When designing your employee benefits package you want to offer value to your employees, attracts new talent to your organization and is fiscally responsible. An effective way of doing that is by adding voluntary benefits that integrate well with your other benefits.

You add your own twist to your employee benefits package by tailoring benefits to your employee needs and interests.  Consider three employee factors when designing your benefits package: 

  • Demographics: Age, gender, home status (single, family, caregiver)
  • Life stage:  New to the workforce, purchasing a house, nearing retirement
  • Lifestyle: Tech-savvy, risk-taker, homebound

Generational differences are not absolute; however, there are certain common characteristics.  For example, a Pew Research survey reported greater financial struggles for Millennials (generally, those born in the 1980s to early 2000s).

Before the passing of the ACA, Millenials were the least likely to have health insurance and one in eight still lived at home with their parents. Imagine the differences in benefits needs of the millennial versus the parents.

Create a complete package
, factoring in what's unique about your employees.  Include benefits that promote the physical, mental (social) and financial well-being of your employees.

Think back to that teenager's fashion sense.  Your employees have their own sense of style. Voluntary benefits allow you the creativity to design a winning look in employee benefits without breaking the bank.  Talk to your HUB employee benefits consultant to help you design your optimal employee benefits package.