NEW YORK–(Business Wire)–Providing employees access to affordable, quality legal services is gaining recognition among employers as a potential addition to enhance a voluntary benefits program, according to a new survey of human resource and benefits professionals. The study, sponsored by MetLife, found the top reasons why a growing number of employers do offer group legal plans are to improve employee satisfaction (69%) and retention and loyalty (44%), as well as to compete with other companies’ benefit programs (32%).
One of the primary positive results of the availability of a legal plan – cited by 74% of surveyed employers – is helping employees achieve peace of mind when dealing with a legal issue. Other benefits include reducing employees’ levels of stress (68%), reducing cost of legal services (62%), reducing time spent at work dealing with personal issues (58%) and providing above average quality of legal services (57%).
“The interest in legal plans by both employers and employees has been steadily building,” commented Bill Brooks, CEO of Hyatt Legal Plans, a MetLife company.
Brooks notes that 71% of people will encounter a legal issue each year, according to the American Bar Association. “This is a benefit that spans the generations and suits a diverse workforce because there is a broad range of situations where an attorney can help. Quality legal assistance at a cost of about $216 a year – less than some attorneys may bill per hour – can be an effective way to generate employee loyalty.”
Room for Market Growth
The study found that approximately two-thirds of employers that don’t currently offer a group legal plan would be open to adding it to their voluntary benefit portfolio if they had additional insights. For example, one concern is whether having a legal plan would add to administrative burdens. The study revealed, however, that 64% of surveyed employers who currently have group legal plans actually find them easier to administer than other voluntary benefits, with an additional 35% finding them at least as easy.
Another reason almost a third of employers gave for not currently offering a legal plan is that they are unsure whether employees are interested. Yet, Hyatt
Legal Plans own enrollment data show that persistency rates are not only very high among sponsors, but also among employees, with nearly nine out of ten re-enrolling after the first year.
“I really believe legal plans add to our workforce’s health and productivity,” said Julie Herr, Benefits Program Manager at Sprint. “Those who use it really seem to appreciate it.”
Plans that cover a wide range of legal matters were cited as preferable by employers, and the most frequently offered services were will preparation and estate planning, followed by family matters; home purchases and sales; and credit problems, among others.
Findings from the study and other resources have been incorporated into an eGuide, entitled, Getting to Loyal: Legal Services Distinguish Your Company and Help Meet the Personalized Benefit Needs of Employees, available at legalplans.com/eGuide.
The survey was conducted online and fielded by SourceMedia in November 2012 to the Employee Benefit News audience. The 359 employer respondents at organizations of 1,000+ employees were screened for offering voluntary benefits to employees, being business decision makers in human resources and benefits, and involvement in designing benefit plans for their organization, among other criteria.