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Voluntary Benefits Are Not One Size Fits All: Customizing a Strategy for Senior Living & Social Services

Employee Benefits, Healthcare, Senior Living & Social Services, War For Talent

It’s easy for generalist brokers to take one look at your senior living organization and tell you what your benefits should look like based off what’s worked in the past for their other clients. But, when you’re forced into a pre-packaged strategy, it’s unlikely that your employees will actually engage with your benefits.

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 benefits strategy, one that takes into account your employee population’s largest challenges and offers solutions through employee benefits.

What senior living & social services 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 senior living & social services 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

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 senior living and social services

Customization is key to developing a benefit 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 senior living & social services organizations like yours specifically.

Student loan repayment

Many senior living and social services employees face a financial obstacle 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 senior living & social services organizations for these very reasons. This benefit can take financial 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 senior living 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 senor 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 senior living and social services 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 benefit 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.

One employee said, “When we got to the voluntary coverages, she wasn’t too sales-oriented, which I’ve experienced in the past, and seemed to genuinely care about my family’s coverage needs.”

Another put it this way, “This was the least painful, and most rewarding method of verifying annual benefits that I have experienced.”

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 who 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.

Reach out to your M3 account executive today to discuss your worksite benefits strategy, and how it could be customized to better attract and retain your employees.

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