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The Best Practices Guide: Best Practices in Voluntary Benefits

Voluntary benefits are becoming more and more popular as a way to give employees additional coverage options at more affordable group rates. The Principal 10 Best Companies—2010 use a variety of voluntary benefits to fill any coverage gaps and meet employees’ unique needs.

Use their best practices to help your organization get the most out of voluntary benefits:

  • Make voluntary benefit meetings mandatory. Employees at Red River Credit Union are required to listen to the benefit provider explain new voluntary benefits. “It helps them understand how best to take advantage of the benefits we offer. If they don’t understand the benefit, they won’t appreciate it,” says Karen Rhodes, human resources director, Red River Credit Union.
  • Choose voluntary benefits based on need and financial risk. Cleves Delp, CEO of The Delp Company, believes that “you don’t buy insurance just to have it. You buy to insure what you can’t afford to self-insure. We try to offer voluntary benefits that insure risk that employees can’t afford to self insure, like disability, death and long-term care.”
  • Track EAP use to identify potential voluntary benefit needs. After noticing a high utilization of legal services through its EAP, Franklin International added pre-paid legal as a voluntary benefit.
  • Offset cost increases in other benefits. When Davidson Technologies increased its healthcare copays and deductibles, the company added voluntary benefits to help offset the increase.
  • Provide thorough education. To make sure employees understand their voluntary benefit options, The Bolles School holds detailed informational meetings during open enrollment sessions and lets employees meet individually with a benefits representative.
  • Include spouses in educational meetings. In many cases, the employee may not be the benefit decision-maker. That’s why Davidson Technologies includes spouses in educational meetings about voluntary benefits. “Spouses could come to our meeting so they could make a family decision. That helped a lot. They were hearing the answers together. It eliminates a lot of confusion,” says Pamela Peterson, director—human resources, Davidson Technologies, Inc.
  • Work with a broker or advisor. Clif Bar & Company relies on its broker to make the company aware of trends and innovations in voluntary benefits.
  • Listen. One of the best ways to uncover voluntary benefit needs is to listen to employees. “We get some insight from our annual employee survey, but the most important way is just to talk with employees face-to-face. All you have to do is ask, and you’ll hear a lot about what is important to them in their lives,” says Doug Reys, manager of compensation and benefits at Franklin International.

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