The Unicorn HRO Blog

Voluntary Benefits – Do they Make Sense?

Posted Monday, February 20, 2012 by Unicorn HRO

When it comes to offering benefits packages to employees, there are tons of different choices available to employers.  The most common types of benefits include things like insurance and retirement packages, but they can often include less thought of benefits like child care subsidies and more.  Over sixty percent of employees say that their benefits are as important as their pay, but the truth is that with insurance costs rising and other benefit costs climbing along with them, voluntary benefits are becoming a much more tantalizing idea.  Some insurance and benefits providers estimate that over one third of company policies are now made up of voluntary benefits, and that figure is still expected to grow.  If you're trying to decide if voluntary benefits make sense for your company, you'll want to consider a few basic things.

  • Voluntary benefits are essentially the same as traditional ones, except that the employer usually pays little to nothing for them.  Instead, a variety of different voluntary benefits may be offered for the employee to choose from.  If they need health insurance, for instance, they can select it for themselves instead of joining a large company plan.
  • Employees will pay for these voluntary benefits themselves, often having their costs deducted from their paychecks.  But the big draw of voluntary benefits is that they'll usually be able to get better rates for insurance since they're often based on group rates instead of individuals.  If an employer isn't offering insurance other than through voluntary benefits, for instance, it's still likely to be much cheaper than buying it on your own.
  • This highlights the obvious reason that many employers are offering voluntary benefits.  Small employers often pay as much as eighteen percent more for insurance policies and simply can't afford to offer it in these tough times.  But employees who still need coverage for themselves or their families can buy it and save a huge amount of money doing so.  It's almost a win-win situation.
  • Insurance isn't the only option when it comes to voluntary benefits, either.  Various things like retirement packages may also fall into the category.   Employers can review a large number of different options and find plenty to offer their employees, who can then pick and choose the ones that matter most to them.

Voluntary benefits certainly make sense, especially to smaller companies that simply can't afford the high costs of traditional benefits packages but still want to offer their employees something to show that they're important to them.  If you're trying to figure out how to help your workers without breaking your budget, voluntary benefits may very well be the best option that is available to you.  Take the time to look through the different choices and you'll likely find one that works perfectly for you.

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