With the economy being as robust as it’s been in many years, the importance of attracting and retaining top talent has never been greater. While the cost of health care continues to increase, employers are looking for ways to expand benefit offerings. Modern voluntary worksite benefits often consist of Life, Disability, Accident, Critical Illness, Cancer, Gap and Hospital Indemnity. 

It’s important when going down the path that you do so with a defined strategy; there are pitfalls with using the wrong approach.

What is your intent?

Is your intent to offer voluntary benefits simply to fill out your portfolio, or to serve needs that your employees have? There are several questions you need to ask. 

  • Would these policies be a good safety net in lieu of our less-rich health plan offering?
  • If we are hiring a lot of people in their 20’s, do we need to offer a Cancer policy?
  • Should we pay for certain policies to offset our reduced or discontinued funding of an HSA?
  • Do we want lower-paid employees purchasing these policies when they aren’t currently putting money into an HSA account or 401(k)?  

Decide what plans to offer and how many

It’s important to offer an appropriate number of new plans annually rather than throw the kitchen sink at employees. Most employers choose to elect one or two to get started. This is easier to communicate at open enrollment and makes administration less burdensome. Make sure the plans are affordable and suitable for the masses. 

Choosing the vendor

The world as portrayed through the “duck” commercials you see on television has changed a lot over time.  Years ago, there were a limited number of carriers from which to choose. Today, just about all the traditional Life and Disability carriers offer group voluntary products and many of the major health insurers do as well.  An employer can take advantage of bundling discounts, if offering these policies from a carrier they already have in place. Many factors are involved in choosing the right partner, here are some things to think about:

  • What’s the preferred method of enrollment? Is it one-on-one, on-the-clock or off-the-clock, open enrollment setting, or online enrollment?
  • What level of burden could this be administratively?
  • What benefits and costs are associated with the use of technology?

Communication and education

These days the hallmark of any company with good culture is the way they communicate.  Studies have shown that even a mediocre benefit plan that is well communicated is better understood and more valued than a rich plan that is poorly communicated. Communicate early and often using multiple mediums; flyers, email, videos and open enrollment materials. 

In the end, there are a lot of factors at play when you are trying to win the “war on talent;” salary, benefits, and culture being the core elements. Having a good strategy aimed at doing right by your employees when offering not only worksite but all benefits will pay off and make you a formidable competitor for the best and brightest.