Disrupting VoluntaryIn a recent episode of Benefits Influencer, hosted by Dennis Carlson, employee benefits industry leader Eric Silverman, shared his insights into the voluntary benefits market. Check out these three key takeaways from their conversation.

  • Stop calling them voluntary. Voluntary. Ancillary. Supplemental. These terms fail to really capture the purpose of the benefits they represent. Over half of Silverman’s new business is actually employer-funded as opposed to voluntary employee-funded. So, most employee benefits plans are far from “voluntary.” Provide clarity as to the actual purpose of these benefits by using the term “enhanced benefits.” The word enhanced really conveys the idea that you have some terrific ideas and strategies to offer. This change in verbiage is especially beneficial for brokers that focus on self-funded or insurance, or partially self-funded, and level-funded plans.
  • Be innovative. Employers are struggling to attract and retain top talent in a tight labor market. They need benefits ideas that are going to differentiate them from others. They want a new idea, not just a new product. Strategize. Think outside the box. It’s not enough to just help clients stay competitive. They need to rise above the competition. Here’s an example: most companies out there still pay for or heavily subsidize group plans that include common benefits like disability, life, vision, and dental. If every company out there is offering those basic benefits, are employers really beating the competition? Silverman suggests reallocating those funds, breaking down a figure that represents a per employee per month (PEPM) contribution. Then, let employees pick and choose the products they want.
  • Empower the employee. Allowing employees to choose their products from an allowed monthly contribution amount empowers them. They become true consumers of healthcare instead of simply being given a product or service that they might not need, want or value. Empower employees to pick what’s best for them. Millennials and Gen-Xer’s especially value choice. However, this innovative strategy empowers employees of all generations because they can pick what they value, not what a third-party thought they would value.

For Example

The best way to get Silverman’s point is to use his example. Eric says his partners and advisors are so strategic and innovative they’ve been able to bring both small and large groups from fully insured to self-funded, saving employers thousands. Now, they can take those savings and reinvest it with their employees. They are literally spending the same or less than before when they were fully insured, but they are getting two, three, four times the bang for their buck. It’s like sending employees on a shopping spree. Employers are giving dollars back to employees to fund benefits that used to be employee funded or were heavily employee funded. Employees are happy because they are getting the benefits they personally value. This investment and perceived value is key to attracting and retaining top talent.

Dennis and Eric also discussed tips around personal branding, vetting employees and effective social media strategies. Listen to the entire interview here.

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