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Survey Says: Reprioritize Voluntary Benefits as Part of the Recruiting Plan

Quick Look: Voluntary benefits aren’t a new offering but remain a trending topic in today’s recruiting conversation. Employees want benefits which speak to their everyday needs and are seeking employment opportunities elsewhere when companies don’t deliver. The 2022 BenefitsPRO survey highlights why voluntary benefits are such a hot commodity and how brokers who work with a PEO partner can help their clients adapt accordingly and stay competitive.

BenefitsPRO and Eastbridge Consulting Group recently conducted a survey showing how well brokers navigated the market in 2021. After the rollercoaster ride of 2020, they managed to find their footing once more and impressively emerged moving in a positive direction. One of the key drivers of this transition? Voluntary benefits.

Typically, voluntary benefits have been viewed as an afterthought, but this perspective has since shifted for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) and their employees. This is largely due to the customization people now prefer when it comes to their compensation packages and work experiences as a whole. The pandemic changed how people view and make their choices and reignited their enthusiasm for benefits beyond traditional health insurance plans.

Even as pet coverage, financial counseling, and tuition reimbursement continue to be sought-after offerings, accidental injury, critical illness, and supplemental medical insurance remain the top three voluntary benefits sold in 2021. As brokers and their clients recommit to delivering what job candidates and employees currently want, voluntary benefits have become a significant part of the plan. Here’s a closer look as to why.

61% increase in employee participation rates

Employees are well aware of the potential cost burden of extended illness and/or hospitalization caused by COVID-19 and they want to be protected accordingly. Over the past two years, many insurance providers expanded their policies to cover COVID-19 as a critical illness, leading to a renewed interest in voluntary benefits.

60% of brokers claimed employee participation rates increased in 2021 compared to 2020; specifically highlighting a 54% increase in employees enrolled “somewhat more” and a 7% increase of employees enrolled “significantly more.” Also, voluntary brokers reported a 48% increase in quote requests over the past 12 months.

Yet, it’s not only providers’ policy inclusions driving the year-over-year growth, it’s the availability of voluntary benefits for employees as offered by their companies. And though critical illness leads the way as the fastest-growing segment, enrollment in other voluntary benefits is increasing as well.

38% of enrollment methods support a remote-friendly market

Education has always been key in maximizing employee health benefits. Many times, employees aren’t aware of the voluntary benefits available to them or the actual value they provide. This has resulted in a lack of plan participation, as well as an overall decreased incentive by employees.

Unfortunately, the stay-at-home orders during the pandemic created greater challenges for brokers to connect with SMB leaders and their employees. However, those who adapted to online methods of communication and delivered consistent, clear messaging regarding cost and coverage experienced greater success with plan adoption.

38% of voluntary brokers used online or self-service internet methods in 2021, with virtual one-on-one meetings and virtual group meetings coming in second as the most frequently used option. Only 6% reported meeting for onsite group meetings, and many said they will continue virtual methods or a hybrid approach in the future. Meeting people where they are with what they need to make informed decisions will only continue to drive enrollment and benefit everyone involved.

40% increase in positive broker impact for businesses

Making voluntary benefits a strategic part of the recruiting process is helping to drive the market forward since it’s answering the demand of what people want. However, tracking updates in the industry, comparing plan costs, and adjusting employee health benefits is a lot to manage, especially for SMB employers focused on growing their business. With the quick pace of changing policies and increasing market demands, it can be challenging to identify the most optimal choice.

In 2021, 40% of brokers reported COVID-19 actually had a positive impact on their business as SMB leaders realized they needed help in these areas. Between layoffs and furloughs, in-office restrictions, and other significant disruptions to the workforce, the pandemic delivered new challenges every day. Meanwhile, brokers who worked with a PEO partner offered their clients an even greater value by dedicating the time, resources, and expertise necessary to handle all HR responsibilities.

90% employee enthusiasm for voluntary benefits in 2022 and beyond

Employee health benefits have always been a strong recruiting tactic for SMB leaders as part of a competitive compensation package. However, 90% of brokers believe employees will be enthusiastic about voluntary benefits, in particular, for 2022 and headed into next year. Shifting offerings to address trends and researching new plan options can be overwhelming for SMB leaders to handle alone, which is why a strong broker relationship is important.

The addition of a PEO partner such as ExtensisHR extends this value by providing a comprehensive HR solution which can be tailored to fit a company’s evolving needs. It contributes to a broker’s lasting success and a company’s ability to grow. Furthermore, the brokers surveyed indicated a strong need for greater technological support to be successful going forward. They listed better enrollment technology, online portals, marketing and education materials, as well as administrative and billing capabilities as tools and services essential to keeping their clients happy and in a place to recruit effectively.

ExtensisHR offers the full scope of these services, including payroll, recruiting, as well as risk and compliance management, with the support of leading technology. With our PEO solution, we help brokers and their clients overcome all HR challenges and provide what they need to grow.

Want to learn how our HR experts can help strengthen your client relationships in an ever-changing industry? Contact ExtensisHR today to get started.

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