As far as attracting highly qualified new employees and retaining current employees, most employers understand the importance of offering a properly designed benefits package. No matter if it's offering a core benefits package or voluntary supplemental benefits, employers need the benefits they offer to be received and accepted well by their employees.

The needs of modern workers are far different than those of past working generations. Modern workforce demographics, including elements like households with both parents working, the substantial number of single parent households, the extended age of the workforce, and the number of workers simultaneously attending to their aging loved ones, are representative of the fact that many employees need benefits that they can customize to their own unique needs instead of one-size-fits-all benefit package. Another element that has made supplemental benefit offerings more important than ever is the fact that many employers have been forced to shift more financial responsibility to their employees for what was once considered employer-provided types of coverage.

In today's market, there are innumerable voluntary benefit products available to employers. It might be helpful to look at the current trends in the industry before selecting one. This can help you better determine how well your workers will receive different types of voluntary benefits offerings. Take the following industry data as an example:

  • According to a UnumProvident's Buyers Study, women buy more supplemental policies than men. The study showed that in a calendar year, 69% of the Disability policies and 61% of the Critical Illness policies were bought by women. Overall, the study found that individuals between the ages of 30 and 49 are the most frequent buyers of supplemental products.
  • A survey by Aon Consultants found that Disability coverage is the most frequently purchased voluntary benefit among employees of all ages. Life insurance policies were the second most frequently purchased supplemental products.
  • A study performed by LifePlans Inc. for the Health Insurance Association of America looked at employer Long-Term Care insurance plans and found that those enrolled in such plans tended to average being 40 to 55-years-old, were better educated, and had a higher income and asset amount.

As you can see, evaluating industry data can give you a good starting point as you determine which benefits are accepted and liked by typical employees. However, your best input will come as you understand what it is that your employees need and wish to have from voluntary benefit offerings. This is an understanding that will come from examining the demographics of your particular workplace. You should speak with employees or survey them to find out what exactly is of interest to them. Also, take into account what, if any, changes have been recently made to your core benefits and what needs those changes could have caused for your employees.

Now, you're ready to look for a vendor offering time-efficient and cost-effective voluntary benefits. A vendor with a good track record of appropriate and speedy claim payments can be a positive attribute, especially when it comes to employee satisfaction. Another point to consider is the strength of a vendor's customer service and communications materials. Ideally, you want employees to be able to go through the vendor with their benefit questions and problems, not bog down your human resource department.

Most employers will find that having the right supplemental benefits and vendor can be an invaluable asset to their employee benefit offerings.

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