A Towers Watson 2013 Voluntary Benefits and Services Survey shows that about 50 percent of employers expect the importance of voluntary benefits and services to increase over the next several years. These benefits are designed to cover the gaps of wealth accumulation, health and security of employees. Researchers also found that total rewards strategies of voluntary benefits and services will likely increase by more than 25 percent during the next several years. Experts predict that the number of employers making benefits top priorities will increase to almost 50 percent by 2018, which is up from the current number of slightly more than 20 percent. About 80 percent of employers said they would do this to benefit their employees, and nearly 75 percent also said they would do this to enrich their benefits packages.
The most common insurance benefit categories currently being offered by employers are disability, life, vision, accident and dental. Many employers are considering adding identity theft protection, critical illness insurance and financial counseling to their packages during the next several years. As companies review new benefit options following health care reform, their goals are to find balances between keeping costs to themselves affordable and offering competitive options to employees. Every employer has to think about the excise tax and learn how to keep costs affordable before 2018. Voluntary benefits and services are attractive to companies looking for ways to lower costs to both themselves and employees.
In addition to being cost effective, voluntary benefits and services offer employees several choices and added conveniences. Employees are able to choose from several personalized benefit options that fit their individual lifestyles. By selecting products during open enrollment and paying through payroll deductions, the process is further simplified. When they purchase group-rate products, employees will also have underwriting and price advantages.
When developing plans that are employee focused, employers consider total rewards, demographics and wellness strategies. Employers usually divide demographics based on generations. Personalization is important for designing voluntary benefits and services. This is especially true with younger generations. Researchers say that of all the groups, Generation Y workers are the ones who are most attracted to plans that are designed to fit their individual needs. Companies that hire mostly younger employees should consider this and make the necessary changes to keep their workers satisfied.
Many vendors are expected to release new voluntary benefits and services options to employers that match consumer needs. In addition to this, exchanges will start offering supplemental services. In the Towers Watson study, nearly 35 percent of surveyed employers said that voluntary benefits options would play a key role in their exchange decisions. As these benefits continue rolling out and becoming more common, employers everywhere will have to evaluate the advantages of adding these options to their benefits packages for their unique workforces. To learn more about these options and others, discuss concerns with an agent.