Voluntary Benefits: Moving from Transactional to Consultative to Deliver More Value for You

October 21, 2021

by John R Locy


As employers dive into benefit open enrollment season, they face an ever-expanding series of challenges not the least of which is hiring and retaining new talent during an ongoing pandemic.

One of those challenges is how to get the most value from voluntary benefits.

Voluntary benefits are often viewed as an afterthought, in the core renewal process. They have assumed the role of “fringe” benefits implemented mainly to gain enrollment credits to subsidize technology or offset other benefit-related costs.

At MMA, we see this unique benefit area differently. We see an opportunity — the ability to make a difference in attracting and retaining employees. We’re not seeing voluntary benefits as “fringe” but rather as essential.

A recent study by Corestream® of HR professionals found that 82% believe that offering more voluntary benefits will help them retain their employees. And 72% believe the right voluntary benefits will help them attract the right talent. Employers facing what amounts to a “turnover tsunami” need to find solutions that appeal to today’s workforce.

But what exactly are “voluntary benefits”? Put simply, they supplement and enhance an organization’s core benefits. They provide a financial safety net to help employees offset potential medical expenses and offer employees choice by customizing their benefits.

Your organization is being challenged to meet the needs of several generational segments — baby boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and now Generation Z. Each group has unique, compelling needs that require a holistic voluntary benefits program.

  • Millennials and Gen Z look for choice and flexibility in their benefits package
  • Boomers look toward retirement and may need financial assistance or long-term care
  • Gen Xers may find value in saving for college and may also enjoy a bundled streaming package or concierge services

With so many of your employees at different stages of life, finding solutions that meet multiple needs can be difficult. Gone are the days of simply offering accident and cancer insurance. Creativity and radically different thinking is absolutely necessary in this battle for talent.

Voluntary benefits generally fall into two distinct categories: Supplemental Health such as Accident, Critical Illness and Hospital Indemnity, and Lifestyle that includes Identify Theft, Pet, Legal, Fertility, pay check advance, streaming services, Genomic Testing and much more.

With the increase in employers offering high deductible health plans, employees face more medical plan financial risk than at any other time in history. Supplemental Health benefits minimize this risk by providing employees income should they experience an accident, critical medical condition or admission to a hospital. Lifestyle benefits offer employees choice and the ability to select benefits that are important to them — and choice is vital in providing value to a diverse workforce.

While over 50% of employers see the importance of voluntary benefits, many do not believe they have enough value. They are concerned that employees will purchase these benefits but not use them. That fear has validity; maybe you have even experienced it. Other concerns range from the implementation and ongoing administrative lift to general confusion of the benefits. It’s not surprising that many organizations see these simply as “products” and not benefits.

At MMA, we are fundamentally changing the voluntary benefits space to your advantage. We incorporate medical, disability and workers compensation claim data into our model. And we’re finding solutions to facilitate increased claim filling and payments include captives, participating agreements, intuitive claim processing and more.

By rethinking how we approach voluntary benefits along with utilizing claim data and financial and demographic analytics, we have moved well beyond just being transactional to a consultative approach that delivers real value for you.

The need for voluntary benefits was growing before the pandemic but has intensified since it hit. U.S. savings accounts post-pandemic have depleted — and that lack of savings is not generational. Anywhere from 40-53% of all employee segments have no savings at all. Developing a strategic and stewardship-driven voluntary benefits program can help.

It’s time to hit the “reset” button on voluntary benefits and do more than simply check the voluntary benefits box.

To learn more about how to get full value from offering voluntary benefits, please reach out to your local MMA team to request a voluntary benefit program review.