Employee benefits have come a long way. In the not-so-distant past, only large corporations offered employee benefit plans. There were standard benefits that everyone received and enrolling in the benefits plan was a big, convoluted process. But times have changed. The modern employee benefits plan looks a lot different. It takes into account the diverse wants and needs of different employees, it uses technology to create a better experience, and it supports businesses of all sizes (not just large corporations).
One of the pillars of the modern employee benefits plan is flexibility. A good plan recognizes that different people are in different stages of their lives. They have different wants and needs and values. Ensuring the benefits plan has the flexibility to meet those diverse needs is critical in order for it to be a success. There are many ways to build flexibility into a plan.
Health Spending Account (HSA) – A health spending account functions like a bank account for benefits spending. The employer allocates a specific dollar amount to each plan member, and the plan member can use the money on eligible health and dental expenses. One plan member may choose to use the money in their HSA account to pay for new glasses, while another may use it for physiotherapy. Plan members have the flexibility to use the money on benefits they need the most. They can also use this money to cover deductibles and portions of other benefits coverage that they pay out of pocket. A health spending account in conjunction with traditional benefits coverage is a great way to build flexibility into the plan.
Wellness Spending Account – Much like a health spending account, a wellness spending account functions like a bank account too – but for wellness spending. It gives plan members the ability to pursue wellness activities that appeal to them, promoting a healthy workforce. It’s a flexible way to encourage wellness.
Shared Maximums – There’s only so much money in a budget, and while employers would love to cover everything, sometimes it’s just not practical. One solution in a modern employee benefits plan is to give plan members flexibility through shared maximums for benefits. For example, the plan may cover $750 that can be shared between physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic care. This way, if one plan member finds physio works best for them, they can spend the entire amount on physio. Another plan member may split their amount between massage therapy and chiro. Instead of providing a lower limit specific to each of the paramedical services, the plan member has the flexibility to spend their benefit dollars on the paramedical services (within the shared maximum group) that work best for them.
Planning for Growth – Building flexibility into a modern employee benefits plan isn’t just about the benefits. It means building flexibility into the plan structure, so that as the company grows, the plan can grow with it. It means having options to expand benefit offerings as the budget grows, and deal with challenges that may pop up along the way.
- Virtual Benefits
In today’s world, many products and services are offered virtually. The modern employee benefits plan recognizes the need to embrace this trend and provides access to employee benefits virtually.
Virtual Healthcare by Akira – Virtual healthcare means using technology (a phone, tablet or computer) to connect with healthcare providers virtually. GroupHEALTH partners with Akira to connect plan members to doctors or nurse practitioners. It’s user-friendly and convenient, it’s available 24/7, and plan members can use it from anywhere. Virtual healthcare interactions can typically resolve more than half of the issues for which plan members would traditionally visit a doctor’s office. The value of virtual healthcare as a benefit has become more and more apparent during the recent global pandemic.
Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – Although not exclusively a virtual benefit, a considerable component of an employee and family assistance program is delivered virtually. It goes without saying that a modern employee benefits plan must have an employee and family assistance program, but having one with good virtual benefits is key. The ability to connect virtually with counsellors and professionals within the program is important to help remove barriers to getting help. Backing it up with a robust online resource base is also important. This means offering articles, videos and podcasts to address a wide range of challenges that employees may be facing.
The modern employee benefits plan embraces technology and uses it to improve the employee benefits experience and increase plan efficiencies. It’s the way of the future.
Online Interface and Mobile App – A user-friendly, powerful online interface and mobile app for plan members means benefits information is always easy to find. Plan members can log on to review benefit coverages, view past claims and claims-in-progress. They can also submit claims online and receive direct deposit reimbursements. This technology has transformed the employee benefits experience, making it easier for plan members to be knowledgeable about their benefits. All modern employee benefits plans should have this technology.
Online Plan Administration Platform – Not only is it important to have an online interface for plan members, but powerful, online technology for plan administration is just as important for a modern employee benefits plan. GroupHEALTH provides a purpose-built interface called WEBS Online that allows employers to complete all of their necessary day-to-day plan administration duties. It’s a secure, user-friendly online interface that includes triggers and alarms to help remind Plan Administrators of information and deadlines. A powerful plan administration platform should be a part of every modern employee benefits plan.
Online Enrollment – A modern employee benefits plan should also have the ability to enrol plan members online. Online enrollment eliminates the need to chase employees for enrollment forms and missing information. It sends e-mail reminders to plan members about enrollment, prompts for missing information and allows the Plan Administrator to view a summary of enrollment activities. Online enrollment is more efficient, and it helps reduce information errors. Every modern employee benefit plan should have this technology.
Why it Matters…
The 3 keys to a modern employee benefits plan matter because they have an impact on whether the plan meets its goals, including attracting and retaining employees, increasing employee satisfaction, improving productivity and supporting the health of employees. A modern employee benefits plan helps make a company more desirable as an employer, and a better competitor in the marketplace.
Good Advice is Key
Is your current employee benefits plan stuck in a retro rut? Do you want a modern employee benefits plan? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.