Ok – so you’ve heard the term “employee group benefits;” perhaps you’ve worked for a company in the past that provided them. But now you’re the business owner, and the term has a whole new meaning.
You’ve been busy starting and growing your business so this hasn’t been on your radar; now, employees are beginning to ask. So what exactly are employee group health benefits and how do they work?
What Are Employee Benefits?
Generally, business employee health benefits are part of a compensation package for employees. The goal of an employee group benefits package is to help cover medical and dental expenses that are not covered by government health plans. To begin with, there are 4 main components to an employee benefits plan.
1. Extended Health and Dental
Extended health and dental coverage are usually the cornerstone of a benefits plan. Without employee group health benefits, the majority of your employees will find themselves paying for some type of expense in this category.
When building your plan, you can choose the types of extended health and dental coverage you’d like to offer. For the most part, expenses that fall under this category include:
- Prescription Drugs
Almost everyone will need prescription drugs at some point in their life. Providing coverage means you’re helping your employees get the medication they need to be healthy and productive.
- Paramedical Expenses
Sometimes, the best course of treatment is to visit a paramedical practitioner. Examples include Registered Massage Therapists, Dieticians, Podiatrists and Speech Therapists. The cost to visit these practitioners can be prohibitive for employees. Thus, by providing coverage, you can help your employees get the treatment they need.
One of the most popular coverages (from an employee perspective) is dental coverage. Those without coverage often skip routine checkups, which can lead to bigger health problems. Providing dental coverage is yet another way to help ensure your employees are taking care of themselves.
Coverage for glasses, contacts and eye exams is another popular coverage. Helping ensure your employees are maintaining good eye health is important.
2. Disability Coverage
Disability coverage means that if one of your employees becomes disabled (either for a short time or a long time) they will receive a portion of their income while they aren’t working.
Paying day to day living expenses while not bringing in an income is very challenging; this coverage can help with that.
3. Life Insurance and Critical Illness Coverage
Life insurance means that if your employee dies or becomes critically ill, their designated beneficiary will receive a sum of money. It’s hard to think about, but it does happen. With coverage, your employee can have some reassurance that their loved ones will have help during a very difficult time.
Healthy employees are productive employees. Usually included in this type of coverage is access to an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP). EFAPs usually include counselling or support to help employees maintain good mental health. They are also a great resource for dealing with the mental aspect of a challenging situation.
Another option is a wellness spending account to encourage employees to be more active. For example, a wellness spending account would reimburse employees when they sign up for a gym membership or running club.
Including wellness as part of an employee benefits plan can be a relatively inexpensive preventative measure. After all, employees who are healthy and happy are more productive and less likely to be absent.
Why Offer Employee Group Benefits?
There are many good reasons to offer business employee health benefits. Employee group benefits:
- Help attract new talent and retain existing talent.
- Ensure your employees are healthy and happy so they can do their best possible work.
- Help protect the health and wellbeing of your biggest asset and investment (your employees!)
- Are a tax-deductible business expense.