Voluntary benefits might give you the competitive advantage you need in a tight labor market. Attract and retain employees looking for extras like short- and long-term disability insurance, critical illness coverage and life insurance. If you’ve decided to add these voluntary offerings, what do you need to know to successfully introduce them for the first time?
Decide Whether You Want to Use a Customized Campaign or Include Them with Regular Benefits
Your communication will be different depending on which route you choose. One advantage of using a customized plan is the ability to focus solely on voluntary benefits. On the other hand, there are advantages to incorporating a voluntary benefits program into your health and welfare plans. For example, as health care costs continue to rise, you might experience a lower response rate to voluntary benefits if they’re introduced at a separate time, due to a lack of interest (since core plans are more likely to pique curiosity).
Employees may also have concerns regarding costs. If they don’t know how much the core plans will cost, they’re more likely to pass on voluntary benefits. However, when you integrate the voluntary plans alongside your core plans, employees can see how the plans will work together, which leads to better decisions.
Determine Which Channels to Use
We recommend using a mix of communication channels to get the word out about voluntary benefits. Include information in your enrollment presentation and benefit guides. You can also provide information by email, your intranet and text messages, and traditional methods such as fliers and posters.
To increase your chances of success, consider which communication channels your employees already use and prefer, and make sure your strategy includes them. For example, if employees have asked to receive benefits information in the mail, make sure you have a system for verifying mailing addresses before the campaign starts.
Explain Basic Terms and Advantages
Don’t assume that employees will understand voluntary benefits terminology or the advantages of integrating them with core benefits. Be sure to identify the voluntary benefits you’re offering and explain why employees should consider them. Using real-life examples is the best way to illustrate the advantages of new voluntary benefit plans.
For example, show (by video or illustrations) an employee with family coverage who has a high-deductible health plan and a health savings plan. If the father gets into an accident and breaks his arm, show or describe how an accident plan can fill in the gaps.
Also, make sure employees know the differences between the voluntary plans. For example, if you’re offering an accident plan alongside a critical illness plan, explain that an accident plan pays specified benefits if the employee suffers an accident, while a critical illness plan will pay a lump sum if the insured is diagnosed with a covered disease.
Your employees will almost certainly have questions, so have a plan for answering them. This may include a helpline manned during certain hours, benefits counselors available onsite to answer questions or a website that includes a list of frequently asked questions, and a prompt for sending new questions that will be answered within a specified time frame, like a 24- or 48-hour response time.
Many employers are leery of adding voluntary products because they might not have the resources to support them. If you’re apprehensive, consider enlisting the help of a specialist who can help you provide enrollment and communication services and ongoing administrative support.
Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.