As organizations cope with changes to health insurance, they areturning to voluntary benefits to help employees maintain andincrease their productivity as well as keep them engaged in theorganization.

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Related: Why voluntary benefits are awin-win

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According to Willis Towers Watson, 92 percent of US employersbelieve that voluntary benefits will be important to their employeevalue proposition in the next three to five years. These sevenbenefits are rising in popularity and should be explored by everyorganization.

Financial wellness offerings

Studies show repeatedly that financial troubles make employeesless productive on the job. Many employers go beyond the standardretirement plan options to add financial education and counselingservices, discount programs and short-term loans in theirportfolios of voluntary benefits.

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Related: 3 reasons financial wellness maysting

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Through these benefits, people gain the knowledge and resourcesto make sound financial decisions for their life goals. The cost toemployers is minimal since many retirement plan providers includefinancial awareness programs as part of their services--withlimited or no additional costs to the organization. As you choosethese options, remember to plan for each generation’s uniqueneeds.

Student loan repayment programs

As graduates enter the work force burdened by college debt,repayment programs can be a powerful incentive for recruitment andretention of mobile, young workers. Loan repayment programs alsobenefit parents who share their kids’ financial burden. A 2016Society of Human Resource Management studyreported that only 4 percent of employers offered student loanrepayment assistance in 2016, a number that is sure togrow.

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Related: One of the best new employee benefits is about toget even better

Identity theft protection

Identity theft has reached epidemic levels and impacts bothorganizations and employees. According to a survey conducted byCyberScoutand ALM, 92 percent of HR managers know employees who have sufferedsome form of identity theft, and more than half plan to offercoverage, so it’s no wonder that identity theft coverage is one ofthe fastest growing voluntary benefits.

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Related: Identity theft exposure: Protecting employees inand out of the cubicle

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Identity theft can be damaging to an employee’s financialwell-being, and remediation demands both time and expertise.Identity theft services may include consumer education, fraudalert, privacy management, risk reduction, credit monitoring, andID theft resolution services.

Pet insurance

According to Nationwide Insurance, about 1 in 3 Fortune 500 companies offered petinsurance to staffers in 2016. Companies such as Ikea, Microsoftand T-Mobile offer the benefit, but there’s still a lot of room forgrowth, since only about 2 percent of U.S. pets are insured.

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Related: 10 ways to avoid pet insurance claims thissummer

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Sixty-five percent of Americans are pet-owners, and veterinarycare can be expensive, so this is a benefit that is increasing inpopularity.

Elder care

Employees pay nearly $17,000 in annual health care costs afterage 65, and the cost doubles after age 85. It’s no wonder, then,that elder care can have a negative impact on employees as theystruggle to balance the demands of work and the cost and timerequired to care for an older relative.

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Related: Employers are finally starting to deal with deathand dying

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Referrals to elder care services, long-term care insurance, HSAcontributions, paid family leave, and employee assistance programsare among the potential benefits for elder care, many of which areoffered by group life and disability programs.

Critical illness coverage

Serious illnesses can be financially devastating when standardhealth care coverage falls short or policyholders areunder-insured. To address the financial gap, critical illnesscoverage provides a lump-sum, tax-free payment to policyholderssuffering from critical conditions such as heart attack, bypasssurgery, cancer or stroke.

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Related: What's driving critical illnessinsurance?

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On top of emotional and health impacts, financial struggles canmake critical illnesses extremely disruptive life events foremployees, depressing productivity and morale.

Career development

Benefits such as skills certification programs and tuitionreimbursement are long-time staples in the employee benefitsportfolio. Now companies are integrating these benefits intodevelopment plans that extend year-round, rather than annualexercises.

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Related: Businesses failing on employee management, studysays

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Development plans should start by assessing skills needs acrossthe company, then identifying programs that will expand employeeskills to match those needs. Developed strategically, a careerdevelopment plan will help employees to acquire highly relevantskills at every stage in their careers, while boosting employeeretention and reducing recruitment costs.

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