Both employers and employees have much to gain from a solid voluntary benefits program. For employees, being able to enroll in an insurance product through a workplace voluntary benefits program offers them the advantage of group pricing, the convenience of paying through payroll deduction, and perhaps access to insurance that would be difficult to get on an individual basis. For employers, offering a range of voluntary insurance products can help increase employee satisfaction-and along with it loyalty and morale-and make the employer more competitive in attracting and retaining the best employees.
These advantages alone, however, do not ensure that a voluntary benefits program will be a success. Careful planning, including the selection of benefits to offer, choice of vendors and well-crafted communications, are keys to program success.
- Bring in the kinds of benefits that employees want and will enroll in. Survey employees as to what types of additional benefits they would participate in if given the opportunity. Depending on your employee demographics, these could include additional life insurance options, long-term care, or even pet insurance. Voluntary benefits enable employees to self-customize an individual benefits package that is uniquely appropriate to them.
- Examine gaps in your company's current benefits coverage, and consider how voluntary benefits plans can be used to fill these gaps. For companies that have had to scale back on their regular benefits package, voluntary benefits can be particularly helpful. If your benefits budget is tight and, for example, needs to be dedicated to helping fund medical benefits, offering dental and vision on a voluntary basis gives employees easy and affordable access to these benefits.
- After determining which benefits your company would like to extend to employees on a voluntary basis, research appropriate vendors. Look for the product lines vendors offer, whether they have minimum participation requirements, how they conduct enrollment, and their initial and ongoing communications materials. Also examine the vendors' experience and track record working with companies of your size and in your industry. The quality of the vendor, employees' customer service experience with the vendor, and the vendor's ability to smoothly work with your company's human resources department and systems will go a long way in determining the success of your voluntary benefits program.
- Though the vendor will supply some communications materials, company communications concerning the program will help to incorporate it into your overall benefits program in the eyes of employees, making it more likely employees will enroll. Consider announcing new voluntary benefits offerings in a communication from top management, which will demonstrate the company's commitment to the program. Make voluntary benefits enrollment a part of your annual enrollment process, and incorporate descriptions and information on voluntary benefits offerings into the communications materials for your core plans.
- Work closely with the insurance provider you select for your company's voluntary benefits to enhance communications opportunities and enrollment efforts. This will be particularly important if any of the voluntary benefits have minimum participation requirements. Some voluntary benefits vendors will want to come in for presentations, individual meetings or enrollment sessions, all of which can be very effective in increasing participation in these programs.
Voluntary benefits can be a great add-on to any company's benefits program. Careful planning and consideration of the various issues that can affect participation can increase the chances of program success.
Contact Us to discuss how we can help you to communicate with your employees.