Construction companies continue to face challenges in 2011. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, during the first six months of 2011, construction spending amounted to $357.5 billion, 5.4 percent below the $377.9 billion for the same period in 2010. This reduction in spending means leaner budgets and less staff for most employers. And the employees left with the company should be considered invaluable because they will be the ones to generate more business.

To retain the most valuable players, business owners must understand the struggles their workers face, and keep them satisfied. Many workers in the U.S. are concerned about their personal finances, and the 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report (conducted in September 2010) found that six out of 10 American workers do not have a financial plan in place to deal with an unexpected life event such as a medical emergency.

The report also reveals that one-third of employees at small firms have less than $500 available to cover out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident. And 45 percent of employees at mid-sized companies say they would not be fully prepared to pay out-of-pocket expenses that their medical health insurance provider would not cover.

Businesses can no longer expect employees to accept reduced benefits and decreased salaries while maintaining higher productivity. The employer-employee relationship should be mutually beneficial. Offering a diverse and comprehensive benefits package is one fundamental way of retaining top talent.

Benefits Make a Difference
According to the Aflac study, 89 percent of business decision makers say strong benefits packages influence job satisfaction, and 86 percent believe these packages influence employee loyalty. Forty-four percent of workers say they will stay with a company if the employer improves the benefits package.

Not only does an expanded benefits package help satisfy employees, but it also improves employee production. In the Aflac report, 38 percent of workers at small companies are currently experiencing personal issues that have affected their ability to work, and 44 percent say adequate insurance coverage would help them cope with those issues. For workers at mid-size companies, 53 percent of those experiencing a health issue say adequate insurance coverage would help them cope with the issue.

To be profitable, a construction business needs productive, focused employees. Workers who feel safe and secure will perform better.

Provide More Without Spending More
Business owners can offer their employees voluntary or supplemental insurance to give them more benefits. This type of insurance is competitively priced and has no direct cost to employers.

A disabling accident or illness can result in bankruptcy. According to The American Journal of Medicine, medical problems contributed to 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, a 49.6 percent increase over results from a similar 2001 study. In fact, a main concern for employees is how they will support their family if an unexpected accident or injury occurs. Insurance providers that offer supplemental insurance plans help meet the needs of workers who face an unexpected illness or accident.

Here are two types of voluntary insurance options that may appeal to your workforce and your bottom line:

Medical emergencies often occur without warning and leave families scrambling. Coping with an injury could affect an employee’s financial security. For companies under financial strain and pressure to cut costs, offering accident insurance can help businesses create a more attractive employee benefits package at no direct cost to the company. Also, it may be a cost-effective solution to help employees with rising out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Some insurance providers give policyholders cash benefits to help with expenses like copayments, rent, mortgage payments and car payments while they recover from an injury.

Disability/Short-Term Disability
While disability insurance has traditionally been a staple of workplace benefits packages, the recession has caused many companies to scale back their amount of coverage or remove it altogether. However, the need for this insurance coverage does not change.

Disabling illnesses and injuries will still occur. Approximately three of 10 employees entering today’s workforce will become disabled before retiring, according to a 2009 Social Security Administration fact sheet. Voluntary short-term disability insurance is a no-direct-cost solution for employers who want to maintain disability coverage options and  financial protection for their employees. Offering voluntary disability insurance demonstrates a company’s commitment to its workforce without breaking the bank.

As healthcare costs continue increasing, many construction companies have reduced their major medical insurance coverage, but employees need this coverage to prepare for unexpected occurrences of life. Voluntary insurance may have been considered something nice to have in years past, but now, it has become an essential, cost-effective supplement to core benefits for many businesses.

By offering voluntary insurance policies, companies can enhance their benefits offerings, differentiate themselves from competitors and provide workers with additional policy choices that best suit their needs.