Many in the industry are left wondering: How do we continue to satisfy the benefits needs of employees and meet our business objectives?

The answer is actually right in front of us, and it’s one that has been around for quite some time: Voluntary Benefits.

For me the only question is: How to intelligently integrate voluntary benefits into an existing benefits program? I think the only answer is: You need a benefits strategic plan that provides a roadmap to guide all your benefits decisions, i.e.: employer paid and employee paid.

Voluntary Benefits, long known as “ancillary” or “employee paid” benefits now play a key role — one that has never been more important.  

Since voluntary benefits result in little to no hard costs for the sponsoring employer, voluntary benefits are the most cost effective way to enhance and expand a benefits package. From an employee’s perspective, the financial and insurance advice and counsel they receive from the voluntary benefits enrollment process is an important way for them to protect themselves and their families — and it is guidance they are generally not able to access in the marketplace.

Further, today’s employees are prepared to pay for more “personally relevant” benefits because they enable individual choice, customization to their specific needs, and flexibility to their budgetary constraints. The “one-size-fits-all” benefits program cannot and does not meet the needs of today’s diverse employee population – and voluntary benefits are the best solution available in the industry today.

The key questions for employers today center around what are they trying to accomplish strategically with their benefits? What is the right blueprint? Which products are right for the employer and for their employees? Which products will benefit employees the most, and lead to an increase in their satisfaction with the benefits program and loyalty to their employer?

Consequently, you need to have a strategic planning session or “discovery” meeting with your clients to: get all the issues out on the table; make strategic decisions about the benefits offerings; build consensus amongst the client’s management team; and document in writing all the important issues and decisions. Many successful benefits advisors and voluntary benefits firms are now adopting this approach or methodology. I’d like to hear from you in the comments regarding your approach.

 Kelly is chief executive of Nashville, Tenn.-based Voluntary Employee Benefit Advisors. He can be reached at


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