The run up to open enrollment gives benefits brokers opportunities to present all sorts of new options to their clients. In recent years, there has been a strong push to sell voluntary benefits. These are benefits that go above and beyond standard health insurance, a retirement plan, and life insurance.
A key component of voluntary benefits is that they are paid for almost exclusively by employees. Payments may be made through payroll deductions, but the ultimate cost of voluntary benefits is born by the employees who choose to utilize them. That makes them a great option for employers looking to up their benefits game without spending more.
BenefitMall, a Dallas-based general agency representing more than one hundred carriers and thousands of benefits brokers, says there are plenty of reasons brokers might want to push voluntary benefits. Here are the top three:
1. Employees Want Them
The number one reason for pushing voluntary benefits is pretty simple: employees want them. Brokers understand this like no one else. And because their job is to help employers come up with benefits packages their workers actually appreciate and use, it is in their best interests to include voluntary benefits at every open enrollment period.
A 2022 survey cited by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reveals a 41% increase in the number of employers offering new voluntary benefits heading into the 2023 plan year. In addition, the total number of employees eligible to participate in voluntary benefits programs is up roughly 16%. More than half of the most popular voluntary benefits options have seen increased enrollment this year.
2. Broker’s Earn More
It is true that benefits brokers do what they can to make their clients happy. That’s what drives their business. When clients are happy, brokers tend to earn more. Therefore, they have an added reason to push voluntary benefits. Simply put, brokers earn more by selling voluntary benefits workers want.
In a recent post on how brokers can see increased revenue from voluntary benefits, BenefitMall used the cited research showing just how much better brokers do when voluntary benefits are part of the program. According to the data, more than 70% of those brokers offering voluntary benefits derive more than half of their income from them. Moreover, voluntary benefit sales were up 16% in 2021. Brokers are selling more and earning more as a result.
3. Employers Need Somewhere Else to Go
Finally, benefits brokers are pushing voluntary benefits with the understanding that employers need somewhere else to go with their packages. Group health insurance and a retirement plan are standard fare. Most of your bigger employers are also providing dental and vision plans. Without additional benefits, it’s difficult for an employer to set itself apart from the rest.
Voluntary benefits give employers an edge by allowing them to customize their packages to meet targeted employees. For example, companies in the IT sector tend to hire younger workers fresh out of school. These are workers being crushed by a mountain of student debt. A good way to attract them to your company is to offer a voluntary benefit designed to help them pay down their debts.
BenefitMall says that student debt repayment benefits began emerging just prior to the pandemic. With the pandemic mostly behind us now, more employers are reviving the idea of offering such a benefit.
The bottom line is that voluntary benefits are a good deal for everyone involved. It should be no surprise that brokers are pushing them for the current open enrollment period. Employees want them, brokers earn more by selling them, and they give employers a competitive edge.