Voluntary benefits (VB) are the puzzle pieces that complete your core benefit offerings, thereby comprising a fully developed financial wellness package. Just like core benefits, many VB programs provide the incentives of additional financial savings, reduced underwriting, and ease of enrollment when purchased through an employer. Aligning core and VB programs as a unified package will help employees understand how these programs work and the value they provide.
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To communicate the value of VB programs, human resource teams must demonstrate the "price perception" of the benefit. Price perception is not just the expense, but the perceived value of protecting loved ones and having financial security. This emotional value can outweigh the dollar amount, especially if employees understand how group underwriting and employer benefit pricing works to their financial advantage.
Insurance can be complicated, but leveraging the emotional connection of real-life examples will help employees personally relate to the protection provided by products like identity theft, legal insurance, and critical illness. It is best to utilize personal stories, statistics, and simple infographics to communicate the plan design and financial value of enrolling through an employer. Employees look to human resources to be the expert here. The more you can help connect a personal need to the program, the more likely employees are to enroll.
Once you've developed the content to communicate, your next step is to determine how, when, and where to deliver the information. From firsthand experience, I can say it is helpful to use marketing plans that provide educational materials at key milestones and consistent, clear information during enrollment.
It's also crucial to support employees through the entire process. Simplify plan designs into visually engaging infographics and help employees with easy-to-follow steps to enroll. Supporting and educating employees with multiple channels of information on a consistent basis will make the enrollment process easier.
New benefit offerings provide an excellent opportunity to showcase VB benefit incentives. When launching a new program, target groups who have a high propensity of buying a specific product. For example, if accident insurance is a new offering, go directly to employees with young children to educate them about the value of this benefit. If an employee has just graduated college, student loan repayment assistance may be relevant as they are learning how to manage their finances and student loans.
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VB programs are crucial tools in both the recruitment of new employees and the retention of current employees. Educating employees on the value provided by these programs and the additional financial perks of enrolling through an employer will help adjust the price perception employees have, thereby incentivizing your employees to take advantage of more offerings. HR teams must consistently deliver the message that the company's VB package adds great value and is an integral part of the total benefits package. Make it easy for employees to relate to and understand how much VB offerings will contribute to their financial wellness.
Peter Marcia is CEO of YouDecide.