3 Tips to Expand Voluntary Benefits and Save Money

At a time when employers are trying to solve talent gaps while juggling tight budgets, the popularity of voluntary benefits continues to gain traction—with voluntary benefits’ sales increasing for the fifth straight year, according to LIMRA.

Voluntary life insurance sales grew 8 percent and supplemental health insurance sales grew 4 percent in 2015, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Worksite Sales survey.

This is the largest increase in voluntary life insurance sales since 2010. The fastest-growing voluntary health lines were critical illness and accident insurance, both of which have experienced double-digit growth for five consecutive years. Two-thirds of the companies that participated in the survey reported overall increases in voluntary sales, with half up 12 percent or more.

Experts attributed these increases to rising employment growth, a belief among employers that voluntary benefits improve worker morale and satisfaction, the fact that most employees prefer to buy health and life insurance benefits at work, a preference among employees to want to purchase benefits via payroll deduction and a long-term trend of employers shifting more benefits costs to employees.

“The employees are recognizing that and are purchasing products like accident and critical illness insurance to close that gap and protect against potential out-of-pocket exposure,” Randy Stram, the senior vice president of the group benefits business for MetLife, told Employee Benefits Adviser.

73 Percent of Workers like Custom Benefits

Meanwhile, another new LIMRA study found 73 percent of U.S. employees across all age groups would like the ability to customize their workplace benefits to suit their individual needs.

“Consistently, our surveys have shown recruiting and retaining the best employees is a top priority for employers,” Michael Ericson, a LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute analyst, said in a statement. “With four generations in the workplace, designing an attractive benefits package for all employees is challenging. As a result, employers are considering offering their employees the ability to control how they allocate their allotted money across their benefits.”

The growing popularity of voluntary benefits comes as many companies are discovering that voluntary products are a great way for businesses to drive employee satisfaction without increasing costs. These products can help expand employee benefit offerings while moving the costs away from the employer. And with cost-sharing becoming the standard, so is the expectation of more choices among employees at enrollment time.

3 Tips for Offering Voluntary Benefits 

MetLife’s recent U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study found the right number and mix of benefits can increase worker appreciation, especially when paired with effective communication and education.

Here are three tips on how to inspire employees to perceive the value of a voluntary benefit offering by making the connection between their needs and the solution provided by the benefit:

  1. Offer a broad array of products to enable individuals to identify “benefits that work for me.” Millennials are paying off student debt and beginning their careers, while baby boomers are nearing retirement. Generation X is under pressure to support school-aged children and care for older parents while saving money for their future.
  2. Show how well you know your employees. Giving workers the option to pick and choose benefits that match their needs and lifestyles can make them feel valued.
  3. Select voluntary benefits based on value, not price. It’s important not to just focus on the product cost, but also value-adds in the service experience. It is important for employers to work with a provider that can offer multiple enrollment channels, flexible communications, and outstanding customer service to improve the ongoing benefit experience.

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