Conquering Small Business Employee Benefits Challenges
Big companies with big budgets and lots of employees have traditionally had the advantage of offering employee benefits and attracting the best employees through them. But that’s changing, as providers like GroupHEALTH make benefits affordable and practical for a small business. Challenges remain, but GroupHEALTH is working with small businesses across Canada to find solutions.
Challenge: Prescription drug costs are rising
Extended health coverage is typically a cornerstone of most employee benefit plans. It accounts for a large portion of total spending on employee benefits, and the costs keep going up. The biggest contributor to extended health costs is prescription drugs. The challenge for you is how to put a lid on rising prescription drug costs, while still supporting your employees with great coverage.
Solution: Choose innovative prescription drug plans
GroupHEALTH helps you keep costs in check while offering great prescription drug coverage through Smart Rx Solutions. These solutions include plans that provide employees with incentives to purchase generic or lower-cost prescription drug alternatives. This is a win-win: employees get the coverage they need by purchasing equally effective, lower-cost drugs, and your plan costs are lower.
Smart Rx Solutions also provide employees with access to central dispensing pharmacies (CDPs), which help lower your plan’s drug costs by providing lower dispensing fees and lower ingredient costs. In order to receive full coverage, employees with Smart Rx plans must use central dispensing pharmacies for regular or maintenance drugs. Together, these strategies can make a big difference in your prescription drug costs.
Challenge: A small business is NOT like a big company
Small businesses usually operate in a very different way than big companies. Cash flow can be tighter, and budgets are smaller. Workers sometimes wear many different “hats” and company culture and processes are distinctive. When it comes to employee benefits, this means that benefit plans that are built for big companies may not be the right fit for a small business. Many of the big insurance companies build their plans with big business in mind. The problem is, they offer the same plans to big business as they do to you, a small business.
Solution: Choose a provider that recognizes that small businesses are unique
GroupHEALTH started off as a small business. Although we’ve grown, we still remember what it’s like, which why we’ve made small businesses our “thing.” We offer products and services specifically to support small businesses. As an example, we offer benefits pooling with other small businesses to help lower the costs for each business. We’ve also built a team that recognizes and supports the benefits administrator at each company, many of whom may be new to the world of employee benefits and is likely working in several other roles.
Challenge: Employees need support for mental health
It’s become increasingly clear that mental health plays an important role in a person’s overall health. It’s also a significant factor in absences, productivity and job satisfaction. Challenging circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic can exacerbate mental health conditions. While the importance of supporting mental wellbeing is obvious, the challenge is in how to actually do it. Counsellors, psychologists and other mental health professionals are expensive! How can you afford to support mental health, even if you have only a few employees? And how can you protect the privacy of employees who utilize mental health resources that you provide?
Solution: Offer an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP)
Most new employee benefits plans provided by GroupHEALTH embed access to an employee and family assistance service into the plan. It includes free 24/7 assistance, short term counselling and a host of online features. The service is confidential, which removes another hurdle for employees needing support for their mental health. A full-service employee and family assistance plan provide immediate support when employees need it most.
Challenge: How to fit dental and vision plans into the budget
Dental plans are another staple of employee benefit plans. Vision plans are also very common. The challenge is how to include them, along with health benefits, and still adhere to a budget that is realistic for a small business. It’s hard to get even a ballpark figure for dental and vision when you’re just exploring the possibility of offering employee benefits. So where should you start?
Solution: Look at pre-designed plans aimed at small businesses
GroupHEALTH created the Smart Plan for Small Business specifically to address the employee benefits challenges facing small businesses. The Smart Plan for Small Business includes quality benefits that address the most common needs of workers. It’s flexible and configurable, so it’s a great starting point for businesses just beginning to offer employee benefits. It’s straightforward, so you can very quickly get an idea about how adding or eliminating dental and vision in your plan will affect the overall cost.
Challenge: Plan Administration
For some small businesses, performing employee benefits administration is no big deal. For others, it can be a long way out of the comfort zone. For those that aren’t familiar with employee benefits plan administration, learning these new skills and finding the time to do them can be a real challenge. Not to mention, it can be intimidating!
Solution: A user-friendly plan administration platform and support from professionals
GroupHEALTH’s WEBSonline is a simple but powerful online tool meant to make plan administration easy. It includes user-friendly prompts and alerts to help keep you on top of the important tasks of plan administration. Plan administrators also have access to dedicated GroupHEALTH customer service representatives. They’re there to help when you need it. Having a user-friendly online platform for plan administration can really save you time. It also takes a lot of the stress out of administering your new plan.
Challenge: Lack of employee benefits education
Employee benefits are intended to help keep employees healthy and happy. They’re an important part of an employee’s total compensation. The problem is, many employees do not have a good understanding of what benefits are available to them and how to use them. As a result, they’re not getting the most out of the benefit plan. This means that you’re not getting the return you should be getting for the hard-earned money you’re investing in employee benefits.
Solution: Choose a provider that will help you educate your employees on benefits
GroupHEALTH recognizes how important it is for both you and your employees to get the most out of your investment. Many employers take advantage of free online employee orientation sessions to introduce the plan to employees. Always-available articles, tips and tools are available to help teach your employees about benefits, how to access them and how and why they should help control the costs.
Also available are Total Benefit Statements: these are personalized statements for each employee that break down the costs of the benefits you’re providing them with. This helps explain the financial commitment you’re making in providing them with benefits.
Challenge: Keeping disability costs under control
Disability benefits are extremely important for an employee who is ill or injured. They provide coverage for loss of income, but financial commitments can quickly spiral out of control. The challenge is figuring out how to support employees with this important coverage, while also keeping employee benefit costs within your budget.
Solution: Disability Management Services
GroupHEALTH partners with the Disability Management Institute (DMI) to include early intervention disability management services with all disability coverage. This means when an employee is absent from work for five days due to a non-work-related injury or illness, DMI gets in touch with them. DMI provides the employee with support to help them recover. At the same time, they provide employers with non-confidential updates that allow you to plan for the absence. Past experience shows that early intervention services are very effective in helping employees return to work as soon as they’re able. This ultimately helps keep disability costs for your plan under control, so you can continue to offer employee benefits.
There’s always a way
As a small business owner, you’re no stranger to challenges – and creative solutions. So when it comes to employee benefits and the challenges you may face in sponsoring a plan, you know that there’s always a solution. Although each business is different and you may not encounter all of these challenges, GroupHEALTH can help provide the solutions you need to conquer them. And if there are other challenges that you encounter along the way, we’ll work hard to find solutions.
Good Advice is Key
As a small business, you may face challenges when wading into the world of employee benefits. The good news is, the right provider will step up with the right solutions for your company. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.