Employees might be paying the premium, but it’s the employer who decides what voluntary benefits employees will have to choose from. So what’s the best way for you to advise your clients on which voluntary benefits to offer?

Their employee generational profile is the key. Employers need to know which voluntary products will most benefit the generations represented in their workers. Today’s workforce primarily spans three generations from millennials to baby boomers that look at work, life, money and finances in totally different ways. Likewise, they have different benefit needs and with voluntary benefits, workers can choose what suits their particular situations. Many of their varying benefits needs can be addressed through the many non-traditional voluntary benefits on the market today.

What’s available in the non-traditional voluntary benefit mix?

The non-traditional voluntary products in the marketplace provide a wide array of benefits that employees can choose from to enhance their lifestyle, protect their well-being and improve their financial wellness. Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of what’s available as a non-traditional voluntary product today, categorized by purpose: 

  • Buying and Banking Options
  • Paycards
  • Short-Term Loans
  • Employee Purchase Programs
  • Employee Discount Programs
  • Credit Union
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Lifestyle and Convenience Options
  • Child Care
  • Elder Care
  • Pet Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Adoption Assistance
  • Cyber Security Insurance
  • Legal Assistance
  • Personal Care and Improvement
  • Financial Counseling Services
  • Wellness Programs
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Tuition Assistance Programs
  • Financial Safety Nets
  • Home Warranty Insurance
  • Homeowners’ Insurance
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • Long-Term Care Insurance

Matching benefits to the generations

Breaking today’s workforce down by generation reflects a different picture of what is important to them and dictates the non-traditional voluntary benefits that would likely be of interest to them.

Baby boomers (born 1946 – 1964)

Baby boomers’ greatest fear is losing their pension, savings or job and being unable to retire. Keys to job retention for baby boomers are salary, job security and health benefits. They want to count on medical insurance and back-up care for their parents. Some baby boomers are in second careers. Some still have grown children living at home and/or are helping them out financially until they can support themselves.

For the most part, if there’s something baby boomers want, they are able to buy it. However, many will question if they should buy it or rather save that money. Instead, they are trying to be financially responsible and scaling back from a materialistic lifestyle. Baby boomers, even if they are high earners, worry about retirement – both having enough money for retirement and wondering when the right time is to retire.

Voluntary benefits that would appeal to baby boomers include:

  • Discount Programs
  • Financial Counseling
  • Legal Assistance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Home Warranty Insurance
  • Homeowners’ Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Wellness Programs
  • Employee Purchase Programs

Generation X (born 1965 – 1979)

Gen Xers’ work ethic is balanced and flexible with a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude. Their greatest fear is being overshadowed by millennials and being overlooked for promotions. Their benefits needs include income protection, family support, customizable plans, automatic retirement management and retirement education.

This generation’s financial stressors come from multiple angles. They are raising children, preparing for care of their aging parents and trying to save for their own financial futures. The rapidly-changing retirement, Social Security and health care landscape hits them the hardest. Because of these factors, they appear to be having the toughest time financially. They find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month and are the most likely to carry balances on their credit cards.

Voluntary benefits that would appeal to Gen Xers include:

  • Discount Programs
  • Employee Purchase Programs
  • FSAs
  • Financial Counseling
  • Wellness Programs
  • EAP
  • Child Care
  • Cyber Security Insurance
  • Homeowners’ Insurance
  • ID Theft Protection
  • Long-Term Care Insurance

Millennials (born 1980 – 2000)

millennials’ work ethic is that professional fulfillment matters more than salary. They expect rapid promotion and meaningful work or they seek other opportunities. They often juggle many jobs and move from job to job frequently. Their benefits needs include portable benefits, forced savings, financial education and concierge services.

In general, millennials are very highly educated. One-third of millennials have four-year college degrees, but that comes with a high price tag. The average millennial has $29,000 in student loan debt alone. Not surprisingly, they are also more worried about getting rid of or incurring additional debt than their day-to-day expenses.

Non-traditional benefits that would appeal to millennials include:

  • Employee Purchase Programs
  • Discount Programs
  • Tuition Assistance
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Wellness Program
  • FSA
  • Financial Counseling
  • ID Theft Protection

Employee benefits are an important driver of employee satisfaction. Well-designed benefits plans based on the desires and needs of employees enable companies to strengthen their ability to attract and retain workers.

Advisors who offer their clients voluntary benefits offerings that resonate with their employees not only build stronger client relationships, but also have an increased revenue stream.