Improving Productivity Through Comprehensive Benefits
Originally published: 09.01.10 by Thomas Giddens
Voluntary insurance costs employers nothing while providing security to employees.
Given the fact that 62% of personal bankruptcies occur because of medical expenses, and 80% of those bankruptcies are filed by people with major medical health insurance,  business leaders have an opportunity and responsibility to help Americans close their insurance gaps, and in turn help their businesses. This is especially true at hvacr companies, which are labor-intensive and which require employees to be responsible for a wide range of functions.
Robust benefits offerings can result in a happier, more motivated staff, free from the stresses of medical debt. In turn, having healthy and efficient employees leads to a better work environment and a more successful company.
The perceived challenge in offering an effective benefits package remains to be affordability. Employers — left with no choice during the recession but to cut payrolls, benefits, bonuses, and staff — now face the challenge of retaining their best talent and remaining competitive in the marketplace.
Employees face the challenge of remaining motivated and focused while anxiety over personal finances continues to loom. Despite hints that a recovery has started, both employers and employees could face major problems in the future resulting from employers’ cutting of healthcare benefits and employees’ cutting of corners with their own health.
In fact, research suggests people with inadequate insurance are more likely to go without necessary healthcare and struggle to pay medical bills, compared with those who are sufficiently covered. This physical and emotional stress certainly extends into the workplace: 60% of employers agree that productivity declines when employees are dealing with a family illness or accident and that their financial problems affect job performance. According to employer estimates, an average of 11% of payroll was lost because of employee absences last year.
So what is management to do — especially at businesses where employees from administrators to technicians to sales representatives have such diverse healthcare needs?
They can help close their employees’ insurance gaps with voluntary insurance plans. Like traditional insurance policies, voluntary insurance plans protect against unexpected illness or injury, but two important factors set voluntary insurance apart from others:
- Voluntary insurance pays cash benefits to employees when they become sick or sustain an injury. So rather than having their benefits go directly to a doctor, employees can put that money toward whatever they deem necessary — prescriptions, day care, mortgage payments, utility bills, or other expenses. Having the knowledge that they have voluntary benefits if an unexpected health event occurs allows employees to focus on their jobs and increase productivity.
- These benefits help employers overcome the challenge of offering a complete benefits package without breaking the bank because voluntary insurance doesn’t cost an employer anything. Premiums are paid directly by the policyholder. It also addresses the diversity in coverage needs among employees because policies can be tailored to businesses; and depending on the size of a company, policies can even be tailored to individual employee needs.
The marketplace reflects the benefits of voluntary insurance. While nearly every industry and sector has been negatively affected by the recession, voluntary insurance sales have grown. Insurance industry research group LIMRA International found that voluntary insurance sales were up 7% from the year before, according to its U.S. Worksite Sales Survey Third Quarter 2009.
Employers that offer voluntary insurance know that they serve the best interest of both employees and businesses as they navigate financial uncertainty. According to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey, more than three-quarters of employers felt that making voluntary insurance available is a win-win for employees and the company. 
Americans look to their employers for financial security, not only through compensation, but also through a comprehensive benefits package. Despite that, far too many employees are underinsured as the result of employers’ trying to responsibly manage finances.
With voluntary insurance, employees can obtain coverage that goes beyond core benefits and include policies such as accident, dental, life, critical illness, and hospital coverage. Employers, particularly in labor-intensive industries, have the opportunity to help employees close their insurance gaps, remain motivated, and drive business without deflating budgets.
Thomas Giddens has nearly 30 years experience in a variety of roles at Aflac. In 2007, Giddens’ numerous achievements and contributions were recognized when he became the youngest member of the Aflac Sales Hall of Fame. Thomas Giddens is Senior Vice President and Director of U.S. Sales at Aflac. For more information about Aflac, call 1-800-99-AFLAC (1-800-992-3522) or visit aflacforbusiness.com.
 Himmelstein, David U., Deborah Thorne, Elizabeth Warren, and Steffie Woolhandler, “Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study,” American Journal of Medicine, June 4, 2009.
 “Why Supplemental?” Aflac/RTi Market Research Survey, 2009.
 “Top Trends in Voluntary Benefits,” International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 2009.
Articles by Thomas Giddens
Improving Productivity Through Comprehensive Benefits
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