Author Archives: Steve Aldrich

Employees Seek Personalized Perks During Open Enrollment

October 4, 2018 | By Stephen Miller | Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Voluntary, nontraditional benefits meet needs at different life stages

Employees’ desire for benefits tailored to their own needs is changing the mix of offerings this open-enrollment season.

“There is clear incentive for employers to get their benefits right and focus on the individual,” said Chris Bruce, managing director at Thomsons Online Benefits, a benefits management software firm. “Employees today don’t want to be just another number; they want to feel listened to, understood and cared for by their employer,” he added. “Delivering a personalized benefits scheme, which is able to accommodate an individual’s interests and life goals, is instrumental in achieving this, helping to ensure [employees] remain at the organization and have the support they need to work at their best.”

For example, next January General Mills is increasing fully paid time off for new birth mothers to 18 to 20 weeks, up from six weeks, and parental leave (for fathers, partners and adoptive parents) to 12 weeks, up from two weeks. To help employees at all life stages, the company is also introducing or improving other benefits, such as:

  • Caregiver leave. General Mills will offer caregivers two weeks of paid leave to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
  • Bereavement. The company will provide up to four weeks’ paid time off for employees following the death of an immediate relative.
  • Short-term disability. Employees will receive 100 percent paid time off for up to eight weeks and 65 percent of pay for up to 26 weeks.
  • These new benefits apply to both salaried and nonunion production workers in the U.S.

    “We spent a lot of time talking with employees at different life stages and asking questions about their pain points and what contributes to feeling torn between work and home,” stated Jacqueline Williams-Roll, chief HR officer at General Mills. “Out of those discussions, we developed a strategy to focus on those moments when employees really need support the most.”

    Nontraditional Benefits

    A 2018 survey by TriNet, an HR services provider, found that 91 percent of employees at small and medium-size businesses view nontraditional benefits as important to their job satisfaction.
    Nontraditional benefits include perks such as flexible work schedules, expanded paid time off, commuter benefits and remote-work options.

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    68% of Employees Would Purchase a Group Life Insurance Plan If Offered to Them

    September 6, 2018 | By Michael Guta | Small Business Trends

    A survey conducted on behalf of OneAmerica by Harris Poll revealed 68% of workers would be somewhat or very likely to purchase voluntary group life insurance if it was offered by their employer.
    The survey comes as Life Insurance Awareness Month is being recognized in September, which highlights the need for this type of coverage. With voluntary life insurance, businesses give their employees optional life insurance which they have to pay for.

    Whether it is the workforce of small or large businesses, oftentimes employees don’t consider life insurance as an option. However, with a tight labor market more organizations are making provisions to make life insurance available in different forms as an incentive.

    As Jim McGovern, senior vice president of employee benefits at OneAmerica said in the press release, “For most employees, the workplace is the only opportunity they have to purchase life insurance.”

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    Survey Says: Group Life Insurance a Desirable Voluntary Employee Benefit

    August 24, 2018 | By OneAmerica | PRNewswire

    OneAmerica®-Harris Poll illustrates appetite as American workers seek to protect their financial futures

    INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Although just over a quarter of employed Americans (27%) have voluntary group life insurance, 68 percent of workers who say they don’t because their employer doesn’t offer it would be somewhat or very likely to purchase it if offered at their company.

    That’s according to a survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of OneAmerica® of over 2,000 U.S. adults 18 years or older, among whom over 1,000 are employed full- or part-time. The survey illustrated why this foundational employee benefit is desired — to protect themselves and their loved ones from future financial hardship.

    “September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and the information gathered by The Harris Poll provides further proof of the strong desire for employed Americans to have access to long-term solutions to protect the financial future of their families,” said Jim McGovern, senior vice president of employee benefits at OneAmerica. “For most employees, the workplace is the only opportunity they have to purchase life insurance.”

    When asked the reasons why they have voluntary group life insurance through their employer, 60 percent of employees who have it say it’s to protect family/loved ones from future financial hardship; 44 percent say peace of mind; 40 percent to pay off debts and final expenses in the event of their passing; 27 percent to replace a spouse/partner’s income in the event of their passing; and 26 percent to leave an inheritance for children or grandchildren.

    Voluntary life insurance is optional life insurance provided by an employer that an employee pays for should they choose to have it.

    The OneAmerica/The Harris Poll survey provided opportunities for carriers to address:

  • Among employed Americans, significantly more men (31 percent) than women (23 percent) say they have voluntary group life insurance through their employer.
  • Only 30 percent of those with voluntary group life insurance through their employer reported they have more than $100,000 in life insurance coverage.
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    Voluntary Accident Insurance Can ‘Balance the Stool’

    August 16, 2018 | By David Polen | ThinkAdvisor

    Here’s the case for why workers should add a third leg to their personal protection arrangements.

    If you’re in the employee benefits business — and I’m pretty sure you are or you wouldn’t be reading this — you know all about life and disability insurance. After major medical, they’re widely considered the two most important types of insurance protection America’s workers need. I’d be willing to bet you make sure all your clients offer these benefits to their employees.
    And while life and disability are the foundation of financial protection benefits, they’re only two of the solutions you should have in your portfolio. Stopping there would be like trying to support yourself on a two-legged stool. To help your clients offer a truly well-balanced — and highly competitive — benefits program, you need to ensure they’re protecting their employees against “minor” as well as major health emergencies.

    Accidents can be a major pain — in the wallet.

    I use quotation marks around the word “minor” because accidental injuries can have a major impact on a worker’s financial future.

    Even with the best major medical coverage, out-of-pocket costs for accidental injuries can add up quickly. An emergency room visit can cost several hundred dollars, according to CostHelper. Depending on the treatment, diagnostic tests and lab fees needed, the bill could total several thousand dollars. Accidents requiring follow-up treatment — removing a cast or physical therapy, for example — often involve additional costs for co-pays or coinsurance.

    And employees with high-deductible health plans will be responsible for many of those expenses before their medical plan kicks in. Those plans — which require deductibles of at least $1,350 for an individual and $2,700 for a family — are increasingly popular as employers scramble for solutions to control rising benefits costs….

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    The evolution of voluntary: Expanding voluntary benefit offerings

    July 5, 2018 | By Scott Wooldridge | BenefitsPRO

    When it comes to voluntary benefits, the best defense is a good offense.

    Although the growth of voluntary benefits has resulted in the vast majority of brokers offering some kind of voluntary benefit product, there are still agencies out there that are looking to expand in this area.
    As we saw in the first installment of this series, the reasons for doing this are many. In addition to improving revenues, brokers are finding strong demand for these products, and can work with their clients to present a comprehensive set of benefits by carrying a full array of voluntary benefit offerings. For many, this approach is simply a necessary part of staying competitive.

    “If you’re not doing this, somebody else is going to be,” notes Mike Estep, vice president of group products and worksite leader of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. “A good defense is the best offense.”

    The list of voluntary benefits is long; in addition to traditional offerings such as disability coverage, as well as dental and optometry insurance, carriers now have hospital insurance, accident insurance, and critical care insurance. These products are often popular with employees who have high deductible health plans such as HSAs, to fill possible coverage gaps. Other voluntary benefits can include long-term care, legal services, student loan reimbursement, protection against identify theft, and more.

    Talk to your clients

    Experts say an important step in expanding voluntary benefits is to talk to clients…

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    Voluntary benefits: How they’ve become a must-have product for brokers

    June 28, 2018 | By Scott Wooldridge | BenefitsPRO

    In the first of a three-part series, we explore how voluntary benefits have become an important part of a complete benefit package.

    Voluntary benefits have become one of the biggest stories in the brokerage world in recent years. With an expanding economy driving demand for workers, employers have needed the flexibility and added coverage that voluntary benefits provide. The growth of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), with their high deductibles, have also led to voluntary benefit plans that help with gaps in medical insurance coverage.
    But another factor has been the growth of enrollment and administrative tools, including online platforms, which have helped make these products easier to manage and understand.

    In this three-part series, we will explore how voluntary benefits have become an important part of a complete benefit package, how brokers can expand their voluntary benefits offerings, and how to find the best fit between product, carrier and client.

    Voluntary benefits—the early years

    The move toward nearly universal voluntary benefits offerings came about rather quickly, but experts remember when those products were considered a specialty insurance offering. Marty Traynor, senior vice president of voluntary benefits and workplace solutions at Mutual of Omaha, notes that at one point, voluntary benefits were considered separate from employer-sponsored benefits. “There’s been a trend toward overall benefit planning by employers,” he says. “In today’s marketplace, what we see is overall planning that encompasses both employer-paid or -sponsored plans, and voluntary plans, which employees paid for. So there’s been historically a separation of voluntary from other core benefits. But today, employers and their advisors are looking at it as a seamless benefit package.”

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    What’s one thing that’s broken about health care or the benefits industry?

    June 12, 2018 | By BenefitsPRO Editors

    We asked our readers to share their solutions to fix some of the health care and benefits industry’s biggest problems. Here’s their action plan.

    Clear the clouds

    The overall transparency to the end user is still extremely vague at best, considering all of the tools and mechanisms in place today. Until this is resolved, we will continue to face an uphill challenge in providing quality treatment at a customizable level for a fair price.
    To assist us, greater hands-on involvement and communication of the “how” and “whys” will bridge that gap and allow us to meet the potential customizable needs of each individual end user as well as the group as a whole.

    Trevor J. Garbers, vice president, practice leader, HUB International Limited

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    The line between voluntary brokers and employee benefit brokers is fading, report says

    May 22, 2018 | By Valerie Bolden-Barrett – HR DIVE

    Dive Brief:

    The fight for employer business is growing fiercer as differentiation between voluntary brokers and employee benefit brokers continues to fade, BenefitsPRO had concluded following a recent survey. The number of brokers who say they actively sell voluntary benefits or cross-sell voluntary benefits to all their accounts rose 10 percentage points in the past three years, the survey revealed.

    Dive Insight:

    Voluntary benefits are no longer just “nice to have,” a new Willis Towers Watson (WTW) study concluded. They’re becoming a mainstay of employer benefits offerings, as companies increasingly work to address workers’ personal needs. Just 5% of employers in the WTW survey said voluntary benefits had little effect on their employee value proposition.

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    Why Small Businesses Should Offer Voluntary Benefits

    April 11, 2018 | By Joe Quintana – Corporate Wellness Magazine

    Small business owners are continually faced with the perennial question of how to stay competitive with their larger counterparts. In every aspect of running a business, from pricing, to quality, to distribution, staying competitive can seem like a David and Goliath situation for small business owners.

    This is especially true when it comes to attracting talent and hiring the right people. Simply put, large companies have deeper pockets. They have greater resources and can offer more in terms of benefits and pay. Granted, there are many advantages that come with working for a small company. Greater flexibility, a more personal connection with the overall vision and operations, and more opportunity are just some of the reasons people prefer to work for a smaller company.

    Nonetheless, though someone may wish to work for a small company, when it comes down to it, they will often choose a larger company with larger pockets simply because they get more money and more benefits.

    Managers in small organizations constantly think about ways they can recruit strong candidates. How can they sweeten their overall package? How can they wow a candidate, but not hurt their bottom line?

    We’ll look at four reasons offering voluntary benefits can be a cost-effective solution for small businesses hoping to expand their benefits package and compete against larger employers.

    1. Doesn’t cost the employer anything

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    To connect millennials and Gen Z to the right employee benefits, know their story

    April 2, 2018 | By Ryan Golden – HR Dive.com

    HR conferences host a wide range of discussions on how to hire, support and retain younger workers — often reflexively referred to as millennials — and one critical component of these efforts is benefits. Employers can’t afford to overlook the unique requirements and inclinations of key segments of the multigenerational workforce when it comes to the benefits offered and how they are administered.

    The so-called millennial generation (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) is now the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. The needs of millennial employees are also generally shared by their colleagues born after 1996, known by the “Generation Z” moniker. But these two generations are more than curiosities — they are a growing force to be reckoned with. Experts are advising employers to re-evaluate their employee benefits strategies accordingly.

    A world of difference

    No two generations experience the same life events in the same order. That applies when speaking of the differences between the lifespans of, say, the generation called either traditionalists or the silent generation (born before 1946) and Gen Xers (defined as those born between 1965 and about 1980). HR should apply this same thinking to their younger peers, said John MacPhee, CEO and executive director of The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on the mental health of young adults.

    “It’s important that we understand that things are changing fast, and the world that emerging adults are growing up in today is quite different than even 10 years ago, arguably more than five years ago,” MacPhee said during a webinar presented by the Disability Management Employer Coalition. “There’s heightened risks around sustainable employment [and] the gig economy — it feels less settled.”

    This changing landscape has revealed key differences in how millennials select and consume employee benefits, Emily Bailey, principal at OneDigital, told HR Dive in an interview.

    (Read more…)