Voluntary Benefits: A Primer for Employers
By Thomas Broderick
From catered lunches to flexible work schedules, employers are doing everything they can to attract top talent away from other companies. Although attractive to employees, these benefits and perks can cost employers a tremendous amount of money. Also, not all employers can afford these services, especially when they already pay for traditional benefits packages. However, in this era of record-low unemployment, all employers must experiment with new and unique benefits. One such option involves voluntary benefits.
What Are Voluntary Benefits
The following chart breaks down some key differences between traditional and voluntary benefits.
|Traditional Benefits||Voluntary Benefits|
|Employees receive them automatically.||Employees select some benefits from a list of options.|
|Employers pay the cost.||Employees pay the cost, but a much lower price as they receive a group rate.|
|As every major employer offers them, companies do not stand out to prospective employees.||By curating a unique list of voluntary benefits, employers can target a particular group of professionals (e.g., millennials with young families) they want to recruit and retain.|
Now that you know how traditional and voluntary benefits differ, here are some popular voluntary benefits that companies are offering their employees:
- Identify theft protection
- Critical-illness insurance
- Pet insurance
- Student-loan refinancing
- Public transportation passes
To create a benefit for employees, companies partner with a second company — a benefits broker or professional employer organization (PEO) — that manages the benefit. The two companies agree on how the benefit will work and how much employees will pay. This process costs the employer very little; the company offering the benefit knows it will make its profit from the other company’s employees. Companies can offer their employees as many or as few voluntary benefits as they please.
Should My Company Offer Voluntary Benefits?
Voluntary benefits provide a host of advantages with little to no drawback for your company. By researching the most popular voluntary benefits and surveying your employees, you can determine which benefits would best attract and retain talented professionals.
If your company has never offered voluntary benefits, employees will need to learn how these benefits can complement their traditional benefits packages. You might consider holding a company-wide seminar or training session to educate employees about voluntary benefits.
After you roll out voluntary benefits, be sure to judge your employees’ reactions and adjust benefits accordingly. Just because employees responded positively to a benefit in a survey does not automatically mean that they will stay with your company if they should receive a better offer. In other words, providing the best voluntary benefits requires continuous fine tuning, especially if your company experiences moderate to high turnover.
MyKlovr’s Unique Voluntary Benefit
The best college admission counselors often charge over $100/hour for their services, making them out of reach for most families. Since 2017, myKlovr has striven to create an affordable virtual college admission advising program for high school students and their families. For a flat monthly fee, students receive expert, tailored advice to help them raise their chances for college admission success.
Our benefit appeals to employees who could not otherwise afford college admission counseling for their high school-aged children. As of the writing of this article, myKlovr has partnered with the following companies to bring our service to families in need:
By selecting myKlovr as part of your company’s voluntary benefits package, you convey to employees that you care about their lives outside of the office. With their children’s college advising in good hands, employees can direct more energy toward their work.
Your Next Step
Now that you understand voluntary benefits and how they can help your company, consider hiring a consultant – preferably a survey researcher — to determine which benefits best match your and your employees’ needs.