If you’re in the construction sector, you’re probably concerned with securing materials, meeting deadlines and figuring out how to get your project built. Employee benefits may not even be on your radar, but perhaps they should be. Employee benefits can be a powerful tool for your company, and you don’t have to have an enormous budget to sponsor them.
The Construction Sector
The construction sector is a building block of the Canadian economy. Commercial, residential and infrastructure projects are always in demand and the industry is often used as a barometer for the country’s economic performance.
Prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction sector was already experiencing labour shortages. Aging baby boomers were retiring and not enough young people were choosing trades as careers. Now, with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic the industry has faced even more challenges. Material shortages, reluctant customers and restrictions related to the pandemic have made it difficult to get work done. So what, you ask, does that have to do with employee benefits?
Employee Benefits as a Tool
The right employee benefits plan can be an important tool in your arsenal. First and foremost, it can help you recruit new workers, and retain the workers that you already have. Let’s face it, the construction industry is a ‘hands-on’ industry and you can’t get work done without employees.
A good employee benefits plan can make all the difference. Research has shown that having an attractive employee benefits plan has a big impact on whether or not prospective employees will accept your job offer. Employee benefits really do matter to employees, so if you don’t sponsor a plan, you’re likely missing out on some top performers.
Employee benefits are not only useful for recruiting new workers, but they’re also important for retaining the workers you have. Workers are less likely to look for a new job when they have good employee benefits. The benefits may also influence older employees to postpone retirement in order to continue having access to them.
One last (and very important) way that employee benefits are a great tool for your organization is to support the health of your current employees. Healthy employees are happier and more productive, which translates into higher productivity and better outcomes for your company.
The Right Provider
Just like you need a strong foundation when building something, you also need a solid foundation for an employee benefits plan. This starts with finding the right employee benefits provider. You need a provider that has innovative products that provide the best value. You need easy systems that allow your office workers to quickly and efficiently administer your plan. Your employees need the tools to access and use the plan, and you need good customer support to tie it all together.
Equally important is a provider that understands your budget and has cost control mechanisms in place to keep the plan affordable.
We’ve talked a lot about how employee benefits can help your business, but let’s take a second to first review what types of benefits we’re talking about.
An employee benefits plan can be customized to include almost anything, but a typical plan often includes:
- Health and dental
Health and dental are the most frequently used of all benefits. These benefits typically include prescription drug coverage, paramedical services and sometimes vision care. More recently, virtual healthcare has become a popular addition to this category as well.
Dental services usually include preventative visits (like cleaning and diagnostics) as well as restorative and sometimes orthodontic coverage. Together with health benefits, these are the most-high profile of all employee benefits.
- Life insurance and Accident and Serious Illness (ASI) Benefits
Life insurance and coverage for Accidents and Serious illness are designed to provide financial support during some of life’s most challenging times. Life insurance is fairly straightforward, but Accident and Serious Illness coverage deserve a bit more attention. Traditionally this type of coverage was called Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage, but it didn’t offer coverage for a serious health event that impacted a covered member. The change to Accident and Serious Illness coverage means that traditional AD&D is still covered, but serious health events (such as certain types of cancer, heart attack and stroke) are also covered.
- Disability Coverage
Disability coverage helps provide covered employees with some income replacement in the event of an injury or illness. Long-term disability coverage is the most common, but short-term disability coverage is also an option. Though not as high profile as health and dental, disability coverage is very valuable coverage if a person is disabled.
- Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
These days, an employee and family assistance program is a staple in most employee benefit programs. An EFAP is provided by a third-party and gives employees confidential access to counselling, support and services to support mental health. Usually, employees can access support 24/7 via telephone or internet, and in-person counselling and support can be arranged. Other components to a good EFAP include online resources, toolkits, articles and podcasts.
If you’re in the construction sector and you’re facing shrinking profit margins along with material and labour shortages, it’s likely that the cost of providing employee benefits is going to be an important consideration for you. The good news is, there are many ways to offer benefits that fit your budget.
Your benefits provider will review your specific situation and provide suggestions, but generally, you can look at cost-sharing scenarios and cost control mechanisms that can be built into the plan.
Cost-sharing means looking at sharing the cost of some or all of the benefits with employees. A common cost-sharing scenario may mean you pay for 80% of the cost of the benefits, and your employee contributes the other 20%. This can still be very attractive to employees because having access to a group plan is often less expensive than securing individual benefits.
Cost control mechanisms can vary widely. When it comes to prescription drugs, GroupHEALTH’s Smart Rx Solutions is a great example. This product provides prescription drug coverage but encourages employees to choose less expensive (equally effective) generic drugs from central dispensing pharmacies. This allows employees to get the drugs they need but reduces the cost of the plan.
Good Advice is Key
As an employer in the construction industry, are you leveraging employee benefits to help your business? Do you have an employee benefits plan that is affordable but also competitive? 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.