Voluntary benefits have gone mainstream in the last few years. And many employees say they are more likely to stay with their current employer primarily due to the voluntary benefits package offered, according to a recent Harris Poll on behalf of Purchasing Power.
With benefit plans being a key tool in an employer’s recruitment and retention strategies, voluntary benefits are popular because employees can choose products that complement their company-sponsored core benefits and round-out a benefit portfolio that suits their individual needs.
“Even though employees are paying for voluntary benefits, they consider them valuable offerings because they can choose what they want and customize their benefits package for their particular needs,” Elizabeth Halkos, Purchasing Power’s Chief Revenue Officer, explains.
“There’s no doubt voluntary benefits are a mainstay in the benefits package, and we’ll see more focus on this in the coming year,” she added.
Here are Halkos’ predictions for voluntary benefits for 2016:
1.Customize, customize, customize.
Carriers, brokers and employers will drill deeper into how employees buy voluntary benefits. Just as the consumer product market studies consumer buying patterns, the non-insurance voluntary benefits industry will look closer at how employees buy benefits. Going beyond the usual demographics of age, sex, income and education levels, now they will look at factors such as lifestyle, housing patterns, and more.
2.More focus on curing the financial flu.
Many employees face difficult financial decisions every month and it’s getting tougher to stretch the budget. A more holistic approach to wellness arises with financial wellness moving to the forefront. Financial education, financial counseling, employee purchase programs and even loans will all be in the mix.
3.Wearables driving wellness programs.
More and more companies will integrate wearable devices into their wellness programs. Wearables are creating an employee engagement factor that is the shot in the arm that many corporate wellness programs needed. A growing number of companies are even helping employees with purchasing one by subsidizing the cost and allowing payroll deduction to cover the cost.
4. Big Data guiding benefit offerings strategies.
Some employers already are using data analysis to enhance voluntary benefits beyond a one-size-fits-all approach so that the organization has an advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Analytics also is being used to help companies discover how all of their employees want to engage in the process of first learning about, and then enrolling in, both insurance and non-traditional voluntary products and services.
5. Benefit portals and enrollment platforms increasing employee engagement.
In addition to simplifying administration for employers, benefit portals and enrollment platforms improve access for employees. With more voluntary benefits being offered to satisfy the needs of a diverse employee population and offset coverage gaps, the use of technology-enabled benefits education and decision support tools will increase dramatically to help employees navigate as well as understand benefits offerings.