Designing, rolling out, and maintaining an employee health benefits plan has a lot of moving pieces. As an employer, you’re focusing on the cost, logistics, and maintenance. Sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of the employees who are really at the center of your group health coverage. You may need to tweak or modernize traditional benefit plans to ensure your employees are adequately supported.
Focus on Employees
When designing or making changes to your employee benefits plan, your first priority should be to make sure it supports your employees. It’s easiest to start by focusing on your employees and their needs. It sounds easier than it is. You’ll need to understand what those needs are and what benefits they would value.
Consider collecting information using a confidential survey – this is often the best way to get honest feedback. You could also host employee meetings around benefits and wellness to illicit feedback. Find out your employees’ definition of wellness and what it could look like for your workplace. This could mean looking at the geography around your locations(s) and how employees who live in that specific area could be engaged in a healthier lifestyle.
Without a doubt you’ll need to include more “traditional” employee health benefits in a new plan or a plan that is getting a re-vamp. What you can do is include those traditional benefits but look at ways to tweak or modernize them to make them more relevant to the here and now. Remember, your goal is to focus on your employees.
Prescription Drug Coverage is one of the most common of all employee health benefits, as it helps fill an important void in the public health system. It’s a frequently used benefit, so it’s very visible; employees usually see a lot of value in this coverage.
A way to modernize this coverage is to incorporate a virtual pharmacy or a central dispensing pharmacy as part of the plan. This means employees do not have to go to a physical pharmacy and can instead have their prescriptions delivered to their door. This makes sense when so many other products and services are purchased online and delivered to our doors. Many employees find this type of service very convenient.
Paramedical Coverage is another component in a traditional employee benefits plan. These services often supplement traditional health treatments. Coverage for visits to a massage therapist, chiropractor, or physiotherapist are common components in paramedical coverage. Modernizing this coverage means including other less-traditional practitioners, such as: naturopaths, acupuncturists or psychologists.
Life Insurance has long been part of a traditional employee benefits plan, and it’s still relevant now. Employees want to know that their families will have financial support in the event of their death. Modernizing this type of coverage means including clauses such as the “living” benefit. This means your employee could potentially access part of their life insurance benefit after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. This could give your employees the financial freedom to enjoy their last days.
Disability Benefitsare often part of a traditional employee benefits plan and are an important support. If you’re focusing on ensuring employees are really at the center of your group benefits coverage, they should be in the equation.
A form of income replacement while dealing with an injury or illness, disability benefits really have an impact on an ill or injured employee. Modernizing and/or tweaking these benefits can mean including disability management services alongside the income replacement. These services provide practical and emotional support during disability leave and help support the ill or injured employee in returning to work as soon as they are able.
Accident and Serious Illness Benefits – Traditionally, employees received Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage as part of their plan. The more robust option is Accident and Serious Illness Benefits. It still includes standard Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits, but also includes a lump sum benefit if the employee is diagnosed with a covered illness. This benefit provides much more comprehensive coverage and keeps employees at the center of the plan, as serious illness really is a reality these days.
Health and Benefits Through a Wider Lens
The main shift when designing or re-designing a plan to focus on employees is to look at health and benefits through a wider lens. Instead of looking at benefits as a means of accessing healthcare in response to illness or injury, we need to think of health more broadly.
How can benefits help prevent illness or injury? How can benefits help support employees in achieving better fitness, better nutrition, and better overall wellbeing? These are questions to keep in mind while designing a plan.
It means a wellness element should definitely be part of the equation. The plan should offer support to help employees pursue healthier lifestyles. This may mean tools to eliminate unhealthy behaviours (like smoking or substance abuse), as well as tools to elevate healthy behaviours (like fitness and nutrition). This can be a combination of “benefits” and programs created within the workplace.
For example, it could mean offering a wellness spending account, a subsidized gym membership, or dietary consultations. It could also mean creating a workplace walking club or weekly “yoga” breaks during the workday. It all depends on what will resonate with your employees.
Thinking of health through a wider lens also means giving more attention to mental health. At the very base level this means including access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) where employees have support for mental health 24/7. It should also mean developing a workplace culture with tolerance, support, and understanding for mental health challenges. This may mean lunch-and-learns, training sessions, or other supports. Mental health has a huge impact on overall health and wellbeing, and therefore should not be overlooked when focusing your benefits plan on your employees.
An Effective Plan
Looking at your benefits plan with the goal of focusing it around the needs of your employees is only part of the equation. Without a doubt the plan must also be affordable, accessible, and provide a good experience for everyone.
An employee health benefits plan is best viewed as an investment. It’s not just a line on the expense sheet! If done properly, it pays off with healthier, happier employees who work harder than those who do not have support. It pays off in productivity and positive business outcomes. It is possible to support employees and contain costs by designing the plan right.
Good advice is key
An effective employee health benefits plan must always center around the people that it supports. Employees and their families need traditional and more modern benefits that can be used both to address illness and injury and to elevate their overall health. Does your plan do that? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person 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 benefit packages that work as hard as you do.