Voluntary Benefits Are Becoming the New Norm

The numbers from two recently released 2012 surveys jump off the page (and slug employers right in the chops). Job dissatisfaction is huge, and workers are looking to bail. Worse, employers are pretty much out of touch on what anchors their best employees to the job.

MetLife found that half of younger employees (Gen Y’ers) hope to work for a different employer this year. The overall workforce number wasn’t too encouraging either—33%. An Aflac study corroborated the dismal findings, with 49% of surveyed workers saying they are at least somewhat likely to look for a new job this year.

Are you thinking, “So much for all the training we’ve invested in our medical staff!?”

Not so fast. While the survey results are a real kick in the teeth, there was some good news. More than half (51%) of employees say that access to voluntary insurance would influence their decision to stay or leave. What’s more, 60% of employees say they would be interested in purchasing voluntary benefits, and 51% say ancillary benefits, like disability income insurance, have a very strong impact on their loyalty to an employer.

The only problem is the response from employers. While 57% of workers 49 years old and younger say they would like more voluntary benefits offered through work, only 32% of employers think such benefits are important to attracting and keeping staff.

Now’s the time to heed the bellwether and expand your medical practice’s voluntary benefits. By doing so, you not only can improve the loyalty of your best staff, you may also attract top talent away from your competitors—personnel who are already trained or are graduating at the top of their class.

An Affordable Way to Stay Competitive
Voluntary benefits are going to become the new norm for employers that want to attract and keep the best talent. Only 10% of employers polled said they were considering reducing their benefits offerings this year. The other 90% will keep what they have or offer more. And, while unemployment is at highs unseen for decades, the availability of skilled workers is tightly limited. Competition for the best employees is stiff.

The most successful employers in that contest for the small pool of top-quality talent will distinguish themselves through employee benefits offerings.

Of the array of voluntary benefits, disability insurance stands out as particularly valuable.

Why? While a dental problem like a root canal can run into the thousands of dollars, a disability can end your income flow altogether. With dental care, you have options—pull the tooth for a really low price, charge the work and pay over time, etc. With disability, the options are slim to none. Social Security is not that reliable a source for help these days; 65% of initial disability claims are denied, and reconsiderations (the first step in appealing a denial) have an 85% rejection rate. If a claim is accepted, the long waiting period for benefits to begin flowing can lead to home foreclosure and other catastrophic financial problems.

Disability insurance for medical practices, hospitals, surgical centers, dental offices, and many other medical facilities can be offered for short-term or long-term disability, including illnesses, injuries or other disabling events.

These plans are also affordable to the employer. Your practice can choose a program in which your firm bears none of the cost. Under a voluntary benefit offering, employees usually pay all of the premium, but they get a cost reduction associated with workplace rates.

The Advantage of Voluntary Disability Insurance
While group disability insurance offers some excellent benefits to employees—the biggest being that the employer pays for it—a voluntary disability insurance program has more individual flexibility and offers some financial benefits that a group policy doesn’t offer.

Some individual disability plans offer a rider for contributions toward retirement savings, which—without the rider—would cease, since disability insurance benefits are considered unearned income. Also, an individual policy’s payout isn’t taxed if its premiums are paid for by the employee with already taxed income. Under an employer-paid disability plan, the payments are taxed, thereby eating away at the cash the employee receives.

Unlike a group disability policy, an individual policy is portable. If an employee leaves your practice, the policy is theirs and, as long as they make their premium payments, it goes where they go—even though they bought it through your workplace. That can be a very attractive selling point to an employee, and—though it doesn’t serve as quite the anchor that a group policy does—it is one of the benefits incentives employees are seeking when they consider their employment opportunities.

Dovetailing Benefits Is Smart
As employers start to get savvy about the new way of incentivizing employees, the opportunities to layer benefits will become more popular—that is to say, if you don’t do it, you will be at disadvantage vis-à-vis your peers.

One of the great things about individual disability insurance through the workplace is that it can supplement a group disability plan your practice offers. That is really the best of both worlds—an income backstop that you provide to your employees, plus the opportunity for them to enhance that protection to meet their own needs.

As you go through the hiring process, or annually at your open benefits season, make a big deal to employees about the way you have layered your benefits. Obviously, you provide workers compensation, which has a disability component. You also pay into Social Security for your employees; that also has a disability component. But since you are one of the best employers on the market, you also offer group disability insurance, which you pay for (affordably). Knowing as you do, however, that many medical professionals and allied healthcare workers want and need extra, profession-specific income protection, you also offer individual disability insurance, designed for the medical field.

You are sounding like the exact type of practice people who have invested time and money in their skill set and education want to work for! Contact us to get a comparison of coverages and to see about offering excellent disability income protection to your employees.