Survey Reveals What Employees Want in Group Benefits: Flexibility

Best Practices for Giving the Maximum Value to Employee Benefit Plans

About.com Employee Benefits
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When it comes to being an employer of choice, employee benefits are among the top incentives that can maintain a strong workforce and make recruiting a breeze. But, how can you know what benefits your employees really want? The Employee Benefits: 2035 report from Davidson Asset Management revealed that what employees want the most is the ability to choose from a variety of benefits for a more flexible approach to meeting their health and financial wellness needs.

It’s a return to the traditional cafeteria benefit plans that have been wildly popular with employees for nearly two decades.

Takeaways from the employee benefits survey

There are several key points that the Davidson Asset Management report showed us. First, 71 percent of the employees polled said that wanted to be able to design their own tailored benefits packages. Another 71 percent said they valued benefits, even above salary at times. 82 percent said they wished their benefits plans would adapt to changes in their personal circumstances, such as when getting married or having children.  Lastly, 87 percent of employees believe that their employer should be able to explain how they can get the most from their employee benefits.

How can employers offer the maximum value and flexibility with benefits?

In a competitive market that’s candidate-driven for the time being, in addition to progressive merit increases, it’s up to employers to offer the best possible group benefit options to employees.

This means creating benefit programs that address the very unique needs of a multi-generational workforce. Flexible benefit plans that provide value to employees at all stages of their lives are the preferred method of accomplishing this.

Best practices for improving the perception of group employee benefits

Some ways that employers can give employees the maximum value for their benefits, while being flexible can include:

  • Including multiple tiered medical insurance benefits at different price points and deductibles so employees can choose the right one.
  • Providing access to low cost group voluntary benefit options for a variety of health and wellness needs, such as vision insurance or dental coverage.
  • Softening the expense of health care premiums through pre-tax savings plans, company contributions, and medical discount programs.
  • Educating employees about the proper use of benefits throughout the year so they are getting the most from them.
  • Gathering annual feedback from employees on what benefits they want the most and what benefits they are not interested in.

What are some of the benefits that offer the most flexibility?

There are a number of employee benefits that can be adapted to create a more flexible group benefits program for your employees. They can include:

  • Medical plans with in-network savings and special free perks (like weight loss programs, earning points for preventative care, etc.)
  • Voluntary benefits that address certain health and financial concerns (such as cancer care, hospital indemnity plans, and supplemental life insurance for dependents)
  • Company sponsored wellness programs focused on specific health concerns like weight loss, stress reduction, smoking cessation, and more.
  • Flexible savings plans for health and dependent care responsibilities, with corporate matched dollars and local vendor discounts.
  • Robust retirement savings programs that increase earnings and reduce tax liability year after year.
  • Company discount purchase programs and performance based points programs that allow employees to stretch their earnings farther.

If just a few of these ideas are added to the company group benefits program, it can better meet the needs of a diverse employee population, while increasing enrollment and participation in better health and financial wellness.

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