Customizing a voluntary benefits strategy for employee retention

Kelsey Stacks

Generalist brokers can take one look at your long-term care organization and tell you what your benefits should look like based on what’s worked in the past for their other clients. But, benefits that aren’t customized to your employees just don’t resonate. And, ultimately, they don’t result in higher engagement or retention for your organization. 

(P.S. In today’s war for talent, that’s kind of a deal-breaker.)

Your organization needs a customized voluntary benefits strategy, one that takes into account your employee population’s largest challenges and offers solutions through employee benefits. 

What long-term care employees are looking for from their benefits

Your industry is unique – and so are your employees. Unlike organizations in, say, the manufacturing sector or education, your employees don’t value traditional healthcare at as high of a rate. In our experience, we’ve found that less than 70% of long-term care employees take the health insurance option that their employers offer them.

So, what’s an employer to do in order to engage and retain their employees with their benefits?

The first step is understanding the challenges and obstacles your employees are facing in their day-to-day lives. This can even change across your industry due to geographic factors, socioeconomic factors, etc., so it’s imperative that you spend time getting to know your employee population’s desires and needs from their benefits package. 

A few employee challenges that we’ve come across while working within your industry include:

  • Cost of food
  • Childcare costs
  • Affordable housing
  • Transportation
  • Need for higher education to progress
  • Financial security
Katie Ott

All of these challenges affect your employees in their daily lives, and the extrapolated effects of these trials result in loss of productivity, and even less overall retention in your workplace. If your employees do not feel that they are able to live a secure life because of any of the above obstacles, they won’t be able to bring their full selves to work.

You have the opportunity to solve these challenges for your employees. Voluntary benefits are just one product category that can help you customize your benefits strategy to solve your employees’ challenges, engage your employees, and assist with talent attraction and retention efforts.

Voluntary benefit examples for long-term care

Customization is key to developing a benefits strategy that actually works for your organization. To help you visualize the impact, we’re sharing a few examples of how our consultative worksite benefits approach can help long-term care organizations like yours specifically.

Student loan repayment

Many long-term care employees face financial obstacles in their lives, from the rising cost of living to childcare costs, and beyond. At the same time, these employees are seeing a need to obtain higher education in order to progress in their field.

Student loan repayment programs have recently gained traction with organizations like yours for these very reasons. This benefit can take pressure off of employees who may already be feeling some financial strain, but are eager to progress in a career path within your industry through continued education.

Student loan repayment is a solution that drives attraction and retention of key employees. It addresses one of the most pressing wellness needs that we see in the long-term care industry, and is a solution that directly impacts the social determinants of health associated with your employee population. Student loan repayment programs can also act as an incentive for employees to stay with your organization over longer periods of time. 

If you as an employer can alleviate student debt stress, you can positively impact your employees’ experience, their perception of your organization, and their overall financial security. Essentially, this solution is a meaningful way to impact an employee’s budget without touching wages.

Customizable benefit card

Customization is key for the senior living and social services employee demographic. And, what is more customizable than a customizable benefit card?

This solution allows employers to give each employee a set dollar amount of money (pre-tax) on a debit card that can fund specific categories such as food costs, housing, childcare and transportation. The employer can customize the categories that make the most sense for their employee demographic and get to the heart of the social determinants of health that are affecting their population, and employees can divvy up the money as they see fit for their circumstances.

When traditional healthcare is undervalued by your employee pool, a benefit like the customizable benefit card could allow you as an employer to better engage your employees with a benefit that matters to their specific lifestyle.

Worksite benefits to fund enrollment solutions

Worksite benefits can be more than a specific product that you bring into your benefits portfolio – they can also be used to fund an elevated enrollment solution for your employees which can take the burden off of your stretched HR team. 

One of our clients recently used this method in order to bring in an online enrollment solution that they didn’t already have access to through their payroll provider. The worksite benefits that they brought in at no cost to their organization were able to help them gain leverage to attain a communication solution that they needed at no cost.

In addition to the technology element, the enrollment solution provider that they teamed up with offered them non-commissioned benefit enrollment counselors who could meet with employees one-on-one, in-person or over Zoom to discuss benefits and help them make educated benefits decisions. This solution, funded by worksite benefits, took work off of their overloaded HR team’s plate, and provided a consistent message across the organization as to the value their benefits package brought to each employee and their family. This client was able to essentially scale their HR team to keep up with the needs of their entire population, just by offering worksite benefits.

Key takeaways

While benefits can be sold as a prepackaged solution, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t get you to your goals.

Organizations that want to engage their workforce with voluntary benefits should work with a broker who can provide a comprehensive, customized strategy that aligns with your overall benefits philosophy.

Kelsey Stacks is an Account Executive at M3 Insurance.

Katie Ott is the Director of Worksite Practice at M3 Insurance.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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