Voluntary Benefits Are Now Necessary Benefits: Providing More Options to Employees Without Increasing Your Costs


Your restaurant’s most valuable assets are your employees. And your largest expense? Most likely, also your employees.

Rising health care costs, health care reform, and the impending Cadillac Tax are causing employers to rethink their benefits strategy and embrace voluntary benefits as a means to address these challenges and to attract and retain top talent. Voluntary benefits can help employers provide added incentives to employees without having to allocate additional dollars to their budget.
Today, offering voluntary benefit solutions is a win win strategy for employers and their employees. They allow employers to –

  • Provide more choices to meet the needs of your workforce
  • Help them protect the financial health, wellness and security of your employees and their families
  • Add benefits to their employee benefits program without adding to their costs
  • Help them address the rising costs of major medical health insurance
  • Attract and retain top quality employees

Similarly, they allow employees to

  • Reduce out-of-pocket expenses
  • Be more knowledgeable, engaged and satisfied in their benefits program
  • Be more financially prepared for an accident, illness or unplanned health event or legal matter
  • In a recent AFLAC Workforces Report, employees surveyed reported that:
  • 69% said they regularly under estimated the costs related to an injury or an illness
  • 49% said they have less than $1,000 in savings to help pay for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses (27% said they have less than $500)
  • 66% said they wouldn’t be able to adjust to the large financial costs associated with a serious illness or injury
  • 53% would have to borrow and/or use a credit card to help pay for medical bills
  • 13% said they’ve already been contacted by a collection agency about medical bills
  • 10% have had their credit scores affected by high medical bills

“These needs sometimes become more exacerbated in the restaurant industry if the employees find themselves at the lower end of the wage scale, ” said Ciro J. Giue, Vice President and Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader, HUB International Northeast. “These employees, we find, are the ones who really can’t afford to be without these necessary voluntary benefits.”

Most employers, restaurants included, realize the importance of securing the loyalty and retention of existing employees, improving productivity and remaining competitive. And employees agree that they're more productive during work hours and think more highly of their employer if they're offered a range of benefits, including voluntary benefits [1]. Knowing this, 68% of employers said they plan to re-evaluate their benefits strategy, and include voluntary benefit solutions, to help offset the impact of healthcare reform [2].  

Voluntary Benefits: The Solution 

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Historically, ancillary benefits have provided companies with a cost-effective and personalized suite of products, but in today's environment where employees and their families are likely to incur more out-of-pocket expenses, voluntary benefits can also serve as a means to empower the employee with choice – driving the consumerization of benefits.

Today's shift to consumer-driven health plans has placed more importance on engaging voluntary strategies. In fact, 40% of employers report they are preparing to shift to consumer-driven healthcare plans (CDHPs) in order to avoid the 2018 Cadillac tax; and 44% plan to consider a CDHP with voluntary benefits in the next three to five years.

Why Implement Voluntary Benefits? 

Voluntary benefits like those described above are available to employees through their personal election. They contribute to an employee's work-life balance, are cost efficient and portable. Today's employers are including voluntary benefits as a vital component of their overall employee benefits strategy because:

They can be 100% employee paid with premiums paid via pre-tax payroll deductions

  • Most prices for policies are locked in once issued and will not go up in cost – so there is no annual renewal
  • The employer provides the benefit options from which employees select only those most relevant to their needs and their budget
  • Benefits administration is streamlined by automatically deducting the cost through payroll deductions and employer self billing options
  • Remaining competitive, attracting and retaining top talent and ensuring the financial well being of employees can be supported through a comprehensive voluntary benefits program. But, which options are the best match for your employee base? Contact your Employee Benefits consultant for an assessment of your current benefits strategy and for a customized list of voluntary benefits that can empower both you and your employees. 

[1] LifeHealthPro “Employees Favor Companies That Offer Voluntary Benefits,” Warren Hersch (July 2013), quoting a WellPoint Survey.
[2] Deloitte (2012). 2012 Deloitte Survey of US Employers: Opinions About the US Health Care System and Plans for Employee Health Benefits