Employee benefit offerings allow companies to stand out as an “Employer of Choice” and yet the thought of undertaking that process seems daunting. But, offering quality benefits does not need to be a financial burden or time consuming process, they just need to be affordable and relevant to the employee.

A quality broker absorbs much, if not all, of the time necessary to identify and administer appropriate benefits for your employees. An initial assessment, likely to include an employee survey, would lead to strategic benefit planning. The employer can then feel confident they are offering substantial benefits to their employees to help support them and to ultimately grow the company.

A recent study of employee benefits by MetLife revealed that, while employers have seen little voluntary turnover during the economic slump that tide IS changing. Gone are the days when employers could simply say, “our employees should be happy to have a job”, because as the economy slowly recovers more employees are thinking about their employment options.

In October 2010, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported “that the number of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs surpassed involuntary terminations through layoffs and discharges.” The study also showed that 60% of employees surveyed stated that benefits were an important reason why they remain with their current employer and 49% state that benefits are the important reason why they came to their employer.

So why would employees be making employment changes in this economy and what can employers do to retain employees but also to recruit quality candidates? This is where voluntary benefits and creative work solutions come into play.

Voluntary benefits are those offerings that the employee pays for, in whole but the fill possible gaps in insurance or simply are value added. Creative work solutions can include options for employees like worksharing, telecommuting, commuter discounts and flex time.

The top contenders for voluntary benefits, in the eyes of the employees are those that provide financial security. It is no wonder that is the case as employees and employers have been so consumed by the economy and their finances for the past 4 years.

Options include:

Life Insurance – whether offered as term or whole, provided through the employer allows them to access Guaranteed Issued policies not readily accessible privately. This is a huge relief for those employees and their spouses that have been excluded from the life insurance world due to pre-existing conditions. I have seen RogersGray, as a broker; offer an employer a Life Insurance Plan with a GI of 100,000 which allows employees to scoop up Life Insurance for themselves up to $100, 000 without any medical questions. A long term employee that has struggled with cancer and could not obtain life insurance previously was now able to access $100, 000 without any medical questioning.

Short Term and Long Term Disability – These policies contribute to their financial wellness. What happens if you are injured and cannot work for weeks or worse, many months? The thought alone is enough to draw employees to plans that provide income replacement in the worse case scenario. RogersGray, as an employer, pays for STD for its employees. Employers have some strong disability options out there to offer their employees that are cost effective and relevant to their employee’s needs. There seems to be a deeper impact, to offering financial benefits, on the employer and the employee than simply retention. The MetLife study shows a connection between poor health and stressful financial situations, “over 69% (of employees surveyed) say that financial stress contributes to health costs at their company.” As companies face double digit health care plan increases, each year, this may be a viable option to help reduce claims and therefore reduce increase. Additionally an employer can also assume that employees spend more time at work and “on task” when their financial situation has some stability.

Supplemental insurances – Accident, Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity and Cancer Insurances. These options provide lump sum benefits to employees based on the nature of the illness or accident.

Reimbursement Accounts – Health Care, Day Care and Commuter. Each is governed by IRS mandates, but allow participating employees to use pre-tax monies to pay for expenses they are paying for with post- tax monies now. Many employees are enjoying those pre-tax savings with the flexibility and ease of use of debit cards that many administrators are offering. The mom who has to take her 2 sick children to the pediatrician can simply pay with their Health Care Account debit card and not even deal with reimbursement. The account is funded by pre-tax deductions from her paycheck.

There are other resources that employers can make available to reinforce their benefits platform and provide more support to their employees, including payroll deducted Home & Auto Insurance, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), legal aid plans, Mortgage Discount Programs, discounted daycare services, Credit Counseling services, and health club discounts.

It’s not enough to assume that your employees will stay with you simply out of a sense of duty, desperation or simply because you offer medical insurance. Those days are gone.