5 Voluntary Employee Benefits for Small Employers to Consider

Feb 19, 2018
| Anissa Kurtz
Voluntary Benefits for Small Employers

Employee benefits are more important than ever, especially for small businesses. With competition for talent at an all-time high, offering comprehensive, innovative benefits is critical to attracting job seekers and lowering employee turnover.

This is why voluntary benefits are so valuable and have been increasing in popularity in recent years.

Small employers looking to differentiate themselves from other organizations, boost recruiting efforts, increase employee satisfaction and engagement, and reduce turnover should explore adding voluntary plans to their benefit offerings.

These five voluntary benefits have become a standard offering for many small businesses and are sought after by employees.

1) Telehealth Programs

A popular trend in healthcare is telehealth. Often included as an enhancement to employer-offered medical coverage, they have shown to be beneficial to both employees and employers.

Telehealth programs provide the convenience of 24/7 access to a licensed physician via phone, email or video conference. For little to no co-pay, employees and their dependents can be easily treated for minor health issues well before they escalate into something more severe.

Engagement is critical to the success of telehealth programs and employers are encouraged to provide information and training around telehealth services, why they are beneficial, and how employees can sign up to utilize the program.

As we begin 2018, more companies are adding telehealth programs to their healthcare offerings. Even small businesses can offer this voluntary plan to their workforce and enhance their overall benefits program.

2) Financial Advisement and Wellness Programs

The long-term effects of untreated stress, both in and out of the workplace, have proven extremely harmful. This has led to an increase in employee wellness efforts and programs. While mental and physical stress are typically top of mind, financial stress can be just as damaging to employees.

The effects of financial stress can impact both employees and their employers. For employees, consistent and pervasive stress can lead to serious health issues as well as lost time and productivity in the workplace. The Federal Reserve found that employee financial stress costs businesses $5,000 per employee in lost productivity every year.

Many companies, realizing the impact to the bottom line, are stepping in to offer financial wellness programs to employees and their families. Many large and medium-sized organizations have had these programs in place for some time. However, now smaller businesses are starting to explore and offer financial assistance resources to their employees.

By providing employees access to financial experts who can assist with various finance-related questions, employees can better handle stress and plan for their financial future.

3) Identity Theft Protection

Cyber security has become one of the most important strategic organizational topics. Developing a response plan and being able to quickly mobilize resources and minimize damage in the midst of a cyber breach must be a strategic goal every year.

This is compounded by the employer obligation to protect the privacy and personal information of their employees. 2017 saw a few high-profile security and personal information breaches that quickly became front page news. This has led to an even greater awareness of the impact these events can have on employees.

Even prior to 2017, companies began offering identity threat protection resources, such as LifeLock, to their employees as a voluntary benefit. These perks help employees monitor and flag suspicious activities that could lead to identity theft, as well as offer financial and legal assistance if their identity is compromised.

Small employers should consider offering identity theft protection services to do their part in helping to protect their employees against a security breach and help employees feel more secure and in control of their important personal information.

4) Legal Assistance

Employees who are dealing with legal concerns can easily feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do, which can lead to physical, emotional and financial stress. As already discussed, this stress can have a serious impact on employee health and wellbeing as well as productivity and effectiveness in the workplace.

Legal assistance programs are now becoming more commonplace among voluntary benefit offerings. A recent survey from MetLife found that 75% of businesses currently offer legal assistance programs.

These programs provide employees with access to lawyers and other legal experts who can help with numerous issues, questions, and concerns. By offering a legal assistance program on a group basis, employees can pay a nominal fee for legal support that would otherwise cost potentially thousands of dollars. This means peace of mind and lower stress for employees in the event a legal issue arises.

5) Pet Insurance

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, over 1.6 million pets are insured in North America each year. The number of organizations offering pet insurance continues to increase each year as more employees and job seekers become aware of this perk.

With the costs for pet care – especially around veterinary and medical expenses – increasing, pet insurance can help alleviate some of the financial strains that come if a pet has an unexpected medical emergency.

With 62% of Americans having at least one pet, small employers who add pet insurance to their benefit offerings can stand out in a competitive job market, as well as increase employee happiness and potentially lower financial stress.

Voluntary Benefits Are a Valuable Addition to Any Employer Plan

With the competition for talent, and the importance of the employee experience, at all-time highs, businesses of all sizes need to do all they can to stand out from the competition.

Offering competitive, modern benefit packages go a long way to achieving this goal. Many small businesses are beginning to offer these perks to their employees, and are seeing the ROI’s from doing so.

As employee expectations continue to increase, don’t underestimate the value that personalized voluntary benefits can bring to a business.

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