Keys to a Successful Voluntary Benefits Strategy

3 Ingredients for a Successful Voluntary Benefits Strategy

Employer-sponsored health insurance is the largest source of health care coverage in the U.S.¹ Yet, with premiums and deductibles continuing to rise across the board, it's not what it used to be — especially as wages have stagnated in recent years. That's why voluntary benefits like accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity have become so important as options to supplement health care coverage and provide additional financial cushion to protect against unexpected medical costs.

But health care isn't the only source of financial stress for employees. A range of factors can impact financial well-being — from housing and related expenses to student loans, childcare and even pet care. Nearly half of Americans say they would struggle to pay a $400 emergency expense, while around two-thirds would struggle with a $1,000 expense.³ This is where innovative new offerings like pet insurance, legal insurance and debt consolidation services can be a game changer.

As an employer, offering these types of products can give you a competitive advantage both in recruiting and retaining top talent, as well as boosting productivity levels. You'll of course look to your broker/consultant/advisor to recommend innovative benefits solutions that are cost-effective and easy to administer. And that means working with insurers who offer access to quality products in an efficient and streamlined manner. All three stakeholders ultimately have to come together in order for a voluntary benefits strategy to be successful.

Here is a recipe to help make it all happen.


  • A heaping helping of data-driven insights
  • Technology platform with defined data integration standards 
  • Rich set of educational content and decision support


Step 1: There's no better place to start than the demographics of your workforce. You have to know your employees to understand their unique needs and expectations. And while there's a lot you can assume from age, gender and even income, you'll want (and need) to go deeper.

Employee surveys are one way to gain the additional insight into what benefits employees might want or need. These can include questions like "Do you have pets?" or "What are your top financial concerns?".

Another valuable source is the data you already have — health plan and claims data. Is there a significant portion of your workforce enrolled in an HDHP? If so, offering those supplemental benefit plans like accident insurance or hospital indemnity can add a lot of value. Are many of your employees going to the emergency room for illnesses that can be taken care of at an in-network urgent care, or are they simply going to out-of-network facilities? Maybe health care concierge services would prevent that issue, saving them (and you) from over-spending. 

Step 2: Now that your heaping helping of data-driven insights is ready to go, it's time to select and incorporate the right options into your benefits package. This is where a technology platform with defined data integration standards comes into the mix, turning a step that was once very manual and error-prone into a seamless, automated process.

A technology platform that has already built standard integrations with voluntary benefit providers and specialty product suppliers can turn what was once very manual, error-prone into a seamless, automated process. Plus, proven data integrations with carrier membership and billing systems mean you can be more confident that employee premium deductions will be accurate and avoid any lapses in coverage. 

Step 3: Finally, it's time to roll these benefits out to employees. If you followed Step 2, then it means you have all of your benefits available on a single platform. But Step 3 is critical, as you want employees to understand the value of the benefits available to them and select the options that are right for them. 

Voluntary benefit providers and specialty product suppliers already have some rich educational resources for consumers about their products. Short videos are also a great way to explain how these benefits work in just 90 seconds or less. If your technology platform has a recommendation engine, you can add in another level of decision support that presents employees with plan options based on their medical elections or personal preferences.  

Voilá! Consumers now have access to benefits that fit their unique needs, while you achieve the ultimate balance of controlling costs without compromising coverage.

Watch this on-demand webcast to hear how all stakeholders – employers, brokers, insurance carriers and product suppliers – can come together on a single platform to expand consumer choice and convenience when it comes to voluntary benefits.  


1. U.S. Census Bureau. 2016. 

2. 2016 Poll, Associated Press & NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

3. Accenture