Rising healthcare premiums and reduced benefits packages affect many companies and their employees, but smart HR professionals are seeking ways to make up for lost benefits with other perks.
A recent study discovered that 68 percent of employees want good dental coverage, while 53 percent want vision care. These “ancillary products,” as they are called in the insurance industry, can help alleviate the sting of cuts to healthcare benefits and aid in recruiting and retaining top talent, without costing employers much more.
What are the top affordable benefits you can provide to employees?
Nearly as many employees (68 percent) want good dental benefits as they do quality healthcare (77 percent). Coverage that includes preventative dental care and covers cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments, can help keep dental plan costs, as well as overall healthcare premiums, down.
“Healthy employees take fewer sick days, and medical research shows that healthy teeth are linked to a person’s overall health,” says Michael Cohen, senior vice president and partner of The DBL Center, Ltd., a Long Island-based insurance wholesaler offering ancillary benefits to brokers nationwide.
Approximately 90 percent of all corporations with more than 500 employees offer dental coverage, according to WebMd, yet most small businesses haven’t caught on to its importance — both to employees and as a recruiting tool. “Less than half of small-to-mid-size businesses provide dental benefits, so a comprehensive benefits package that includes dental coverage can help smaller companies stay competitive against larger firms with more resources,” Cohen points out.
Vision coverage ranks close behind dental when it comes to employee desires, with 53 percent deeming it “important.” Vision care is a good value, because most employees won’t use it but, for those who do, it’s a strong bargaining chip for recruiting and retention.
Life insurance, often called Group Life / AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment) coverage, provides employees with peace-of-mind and added security. “Tiered programs allow employers to cover all or some of the premium costs, depending on the employee’s position in the company,” explains Cohen. For instance, the employer might pay 100 percent of insurance premiums for C-level executives, less for middle management, and 50 percent or less for lower or entry-level employees.
Enhanced Disability Benefits
Some states require that employers provide a certain amount of short- and long-term disability coverage. Employers have the option to enhance this coverage and provide a customized benefits package for employees who are ill, injured, or on maternity leave.
Like life insurance, employers can opt to pay for all or part of enhanced short- and long-term disability benefit premiums. “These ancillary programs can be paid for 100 percent by the corporation and used as a tax deduction or cost shared amongst the employees,” says Cohen. “Workers rely on their paychecks and companies rely on their workers so it makes sense for both sides to invest in enhanced disability coverage.”
He adds that many insurance providers offer multi-line discounts when employers purchase enhanced disability along with life, dental, and vision coverage from the same carrier. “Take the savings as an opportunity to reward your staff with these ancillary benefits following a good annual review, or use them to help recruit the best talent in your industry,” he says.
Today’s employees understand they have to take their retirement savings into their own hands – and they’re looking for their employers to help out. According to an infographic compiled by Namely, 72 percent of employees want matching 401K contributions from their employees.
Consider Other Benefits
Not sure which benefits will make your employees happiest? Ask them! They might request paid time off to care for sick children (separate from their own sick days or vacation time), on-site fitness programs or off-site gym memberships, or something else not on this list.
Happy employees, it turns out, are also healthier employees according to research, so any benefits you offer to improve employee satisfaction may also, ultimately, reduce healthcare costs for your company.
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