HRO Today January/February 2018 - 54

THE MERCER
REPOR T
Voluntary Revolution
Expanded benefi ts offerings are helping organizations retain
top performers.
By Tim Weber
What does a well-integrated benefi ts program look
like these days? Nothing like yesterday's. Between
healthcare cost pressures and regulatory uncertainties,
organizations have to content with not only a volatile
benefi ts marketplace, but also the rising expectations
and individual needs of the workforce. Partnering core
health benefi ts with a robust voluntary benefi ts program
can help employers solve these challenges.
Consider these talent trends: Even among the most
satisfi ed employees, two out of fi ve are seriously
considering leaving their organizations, according to the
recent Mercer Inside Employees' Minds study. That's a
potential loss of valued talent that fi rms can't afford. At
the same time, 88 percent of employees see voluntary
benefi ts as part of a comprehensive benefi ts package,
meaning they can be leveraged as a valuable retention
tool.
Talent retention isn't the only trend gaining attention.
A lack of savings and fi nancial preparedness has increased
employee stress, with 80 percent of workers reporting
that they suffer from it, according to a Purchasing Power
survey.
This is a problem for organizations that struggle to meet
employee needs on one hand while managing costs on
the other. One successful cost management solution
has been to offer-and in some cases, only offer-highdeductible
consumer directed health plans (CDHPs), with
72 percent of employers expected to offer a CDHP by
2019, according to Mercer's National Survey of Employer
Sponsored Health Plans.
While CDHPs can be a lower-cost, paycheck-preserving
option for many organizatons, they also can stretch an
already fi nancially stressed employee if the unexpected
occurs. As out-of-pocket costs keep rising, voluntary
benefi ts, such as supplemental disability, hospital
indemnity, and accident and critical illness coverage, can
be crucial gap-fi lling solutions. They help cover the costs
of an unexpected health issue and protect income in the
event of a disability.
[54]
HRO TODAY MAGAZINE
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018
But supplemental medical offerings are only the
beginning. A diverse, four-generational workforce is
clamoring for additional benefi ts, and voluntary benefi ts
such as student loan repayment benefi ts, identity theft
protection, discounted auto insurance coverage, and
long-term care are becoming mainstream must-haves to
solve a multitude of issues in the market today.
The mainstreaming of voluntary benefi ts is clearly
underway. .A 2016 report from Eastbridge Consulting
Group showed that nearly 70 percent of employers
are leveraging voluntary benefi ts as part of their
overall benefi ts strategy. And younger employees
overwhelmingly are looking for more benefi ts fl exibility,
including 70 percent of millennials and 59 percent of
Generation X employees, according to a Mercer Inside
Employees' Minds study.
This broader portfolio often carries an administrative
burden because organizations typically need to rely on
multiple partners to deliver a broader set of benefi ts.
This can complicate things by wasting time that should
be used to communicate the value of benefi ts offerings
and deliver a solid enrollment and service experience.
According to the National Survey of Employer Sponsored
Health Plans, 65 percent of employers use four or more
carriers for all of their voluntary benefi ts offerings. Yet
70 percent of employers would prefer to enroll core
and voluntary benefi ts on one platform, while only 58
percent of fi rms with more than 500 employees have
managed to do so.
Expanding the benefi ts offering doesn't have to be
complicated. Finding a partner that streamlines the
administration of the program, delivers effective
communication strategies and simplifi es the entire
employee experience can help HR get the most out of the
voluntary revolution.
The market demands nothing less.
Tim Weber is a partner in Mercer's US Health business.

HRO Today January/February 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HRO Today January/February 2018

HRO Today January/February 2018 - 1
HRO Today January/February 2018 - 2
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