Employee benefits are standard fare in the American workplace. Companies of all sizes offer the basic options like health insurance and a retirement plan. Anything above and beyond is considered voluntary, and it is open to creativity. Companies can be as creative as they want to be with their voluntary benefits options. So why aren’t they?
Business can be a strange enterprise at times. A company finds a formula for success and all its competitors follow. The formula eventually gets so ingrained that it becomes the standard for that particular industry. But where is the creativity? Where is the individuality that used to define American business? We are seeing it less and less.
Creativity in the benefits space has been lacking for a long time. But general agencies like BenefitMall are working to change that. BenefitMall works with thousands of brokers to help them to access the benefits they offer employers. They are big fans of both voluntary benefits and creativity in designing employer packages.
Being Innovative with Their Benefits
These days, companies love to talk about innovation. They love to describe themselves as being innovative. It is just another word for creative. Nonetheless, companies generally wishing to be innovative should apply it to their benefits. There is little benefit to coming up with good health and retirement plans only to stop there.
Voluntary benefits offer so many more opportunities to meet employee needs without breaking the bank. By their nature, voluntary benefits take advantage of group rates for better pricing. And because they are voluntary, employers do not necessarily have to foot a large part of the bill. They can if they want to, but they can also pass the cost on to employees.
Mix and Match Benefits
So how does a company get creative with its benefits? By mixing and matching different options based on what employees want and need. Let us start with the three basic categories under which employee benefits fall:
- Standard – Standard benefits include health insurance and retirement plans. Health insurance can be fully funded or self-funded. As for retirement plans, 401(k)s tend to dominate. There are a few other options.
- Voluntary – Voluntary benefits are things like dental and vision plans, disability insurance, critical illness coverage, and so forth. They have a direct financial obligation attached to them.
- Non-Monetary – Non-monetary benefits are voluntary benefits that do not have a direct financial obligation. They include things like flexible scheduling, remote work opportunities, and unlimited paid time off (PTO).
Standard benefits are the most costly for employers because they pick up a substantial portion of the bill. A company might cover 80% of the health insurance bill and pass the remaining 20% on to employees. Voluntary benefits can be completely paid by either party or shared between them.
Giving Employees a Choice
The best way to be creative with employee benefits is to give workers a choice. Offer a standard health insurance plan and 401(k). Then create a basket of voluntary benefits that includes non-monetary options. Finally, allow employees to build their own benefits packages by combining their standard benefits with a selection of voluntary and non-monetary options.
Employee customization gives each individual the opportunity to create a benefits package that best meets their needs. By the same token, it also makes the employee feel valued and appreciated.
Employee benefits do not have to be limited to the two standards. In fact, they shouldn’t be. It is time for America’s employers to throw out the old formula in favor of being more creative. Creativity in the benefits space is good for employers and employees alike.