Re-assessing your benefits strategy in today's economy

August 11, 2010

Playing in a swimming pool on vacation

In today's environment, employers understand that a one size fits all benefits strategy is not necessarily what's in the best interest of employees and are looking for ways to diversity their benefits offerings without increasing their budget.

Workplace voluntary benefits allow employers to expand their benefits options without having to spend more money. With benefits like disability, life, accident, long-term illness or cancer, employees can choose just what they need, which can reduce costs for you the employer and employee.

Protection from the unexpected:

Most Americans typically do not plan for health-related expenses not covered with health insurance. These expenses can include loss of income, childcare, and travel to treatment centers, among others. Statistics put the problem into better perspective:

  • Three in 10 workers entering the work force today will become disabled before retiring1
  • About every 34 seconds, an American will suffer a heart attack2
  • 1 percent of American employees live from paycheck to paycheck3

Bottom line: Most consumers today stand unprepared for the unexpected.

By putting employees in control, workplace voluntary benefits can remedy this situation. Based on their unique needs and circumstances, employees can decide what workplace voluntary benefits work best for them.

  • Employer advantages include: More benefit choices without higher costs. The plans can be paid in full by the employee
  • Access to benefits that help protect employees' health and savings.
  • The chance to reduce payroll tax for each employee who signs up. Using workplace voluntary benefits to help build a multi-year plan and cost-saving strategies
  • Providing a wide range of employee benefits to help keep employees productive and loyal

Five important best practices:

  1. Understand current coverage. For workplace voluntary benefits to be most effective, they should fill in gaps in existing coverage. Employers should work with a benefits advisor to figure out the best choices.
  2. Ask questions. Knowing some basic questions to ask a broker can make all the difference for a business. Be sure to ask:
    • How can I save money?
    • What benefits can I get?
    • How does this fit in with what we already have?
    • How will this fit into my plan three to five years?
    • How will workers learn about these plans?
  3. Get employee input. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups can help you learn what employees want.
  4. Support plan choices. To demonstrate commitment, use your typical communication channels, rather than just communications from the insurer as they may not fully buy in or participate.
  5. Automate when possible. Whenever possible, employers should take advantage of electronic enrollment, administration, and communication opportunities.

Education is key

To help your employees understand the value and importance Workplace Voluntary Benefits, direct them to Humana's Virtual Guidance Tool.