Employee Benefits for the Community and Social Service Sector
The community and social service sector employs thousands of Canadians who spend their days (and nights) caring for others. Rewarding them with employee benefits makes sense; it’s the right thing to do and helps keep your organization strong. But choosing just any employee benefits plan isn’t going to give your employees and your organization what it needs.
A Unique Sector
The main focus of the community and social services sector is helping others enjoy a better quality of life. There are many different types of organizations in this sector; community living, healthcare and social service, to name a few. Supporting the well-being of others is at the core of all organizations in this sector.
Compensation philosophies vary for employees in the community and social service sector. Employees often work long hours and many work shift work. The sector is diverse. There are companies working for profit, and there are non-profit organizations. There are unionized organizations and there are non-unionized organizations. This diversity can make it challenging to find an employee benefits plan that can meet the needs of so many different organizations. But sponsoring an employee benefit plan is a must; it’s undeniable that employees are the most valuable asset in this industry.
Employee Benefits for Community and Social Service Organizations
Almost 20 years ago, several executive directors from the community and social service organizations came together. They realized that there were no employee benefit plans available that were adequately meeting the needs of their sector. They needed great benefits that were both affordable and flexible. So they set out to create the ideal social services employee benefits plan.
This is how the Community Services Benefits Trust (CSBT) was formed. The CSBT partnered with GroupHEALTH to create and administer the employee benefits plan. Today the CSBT is still going strong with a board of directors comprised of executives from organizations across the sector. Over 30,000 Canadian employees in this sector are covered by CSBT benefit plans.
There are many different employee benefits available today, and many different plans. Some benefits that are fairly common include:
- Extended health – These benefits can include coverage for paramedical services like visiting a chiropractor or a dietician.
- Prescription drugs – This coverage pays for some or all of the cost of a prescription drug and/or the cost associated with dispensing the drug.
- Life Insurance – This coverage provides a lump-sum payment in the event of the death of a covered individual.
- Vision care – Vision care benefits can be customized to include eye examinations, glasses or contact lenses, or even laser eye surgery.
- Accident and Serious Illness (ASI) – More robust than traditional accident coverage, this coverage also includes a lump sum payment if that an employee has a serious health event (like a heart attack or a life-threatening cancer diagnosis).
- Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – This program gives employees access to 24/7 support for their mental health. It includes free short-term counselling and online articles and toolkits.
- Dental Benefits – These benefits can be customized to cover routine dental examinations and cleaning, major dental work (like bridges and implants) or even orthodontics (like braces and Invisalign).
- Short and Long Term Disability – These benefits provide some income replacement for employees who are ill or injured while not at work.
- Health Spending Account (HSA) – Usually provided in conjunction with other benefits, the HSA acts like a bank account where employees can use the money in the account for eligible health expenses, or to pay for the unpaid portion of other benefits.
In addition to great benefits, the CSBT realized that the community and social services sector also had some other important requirements for an employee benefit plan. They also need:
- A Fully Insured Plan – Organizations in the community and social service sector need an employee benefits plan that is fully insured. They need the reassurance that if large or unexpected claims arise, they will not be required to come up with the money to pay them. That’s why the CSBT plan is fully insured.
- Cost Containment – With so many non-profit organizations in this sector (as well as for-profit organizations with the same financial pressures) cost containment for their employee benefits plan is a must. Working with GroupHEALTH, the most significant way that the CSBT plan contains costs is by targeting the two largest cost drivers for employee benefit plans: prescription drugs and disability benefits.GroupHEALTH’s Smart Rx solutions provide options for prescription drug coverage that includes remote dispensing and lower cost (but equally effective) generic drugs. These options can significantly reduce prescription drug costs, protecting the long-term sustainability of the benefit plan.
For disability coverage, the CSBT plan provides disability management services with comprehensive disability benefits. These services provide practical support for both ill or injured employees and their employers. The goal is a quicker return to pre-disability health, shortening the length of the disability claim. It’s a win/win: the services help employees get better sooner, and they help contain disability claim costs.
- Value-added Benefits – Employees in this sector are enriching the lives of others – they deserve an employee benefits plan that is the best that it can be. The plan needs to have perks and coverages to give employees that little ‘extra.’ The CSBT plan includes value-added benefits such as hospital cash (a daily cash payment after 5 days of hospitalization) as well as the opportunity to get a second opinion on a serious medical diagnosis. Disability management services are also a value-added benefit because they help the employee with filling out disability forms, making medical appointments and coordinating a return to work.
Providing employees in the community and social service sector with great employee benefits is not only good for them but also good for you and your organization. Employee benefits lead to healthier and better-supported employees. This translates into improved employee engagement and productivity. It also helps minimize absences and presenteeism.
When it comes time to recruit new employees, employee benefits can also help. A good employee benefits plan can significantly influence a prospective employee’s decision to accept or reject a job offer. A good plan that employees are happy with can also help you retain the employees that you already have.
Good Advice is Key
Do you have the right plan for your community or social services organization? Is the plan giving you maximum value and supporting your employees in the best way possible? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.