Workplace benefits make your company more attractive to employees, but those benefits come at a cost. Is the payoff worth it? Business in Edmonton magazine took a closer look and talked to two experts. Spoiler alert, the answer is a resounding yes. Offering benefits can be a gamechanger for your company and your team.
Dean Chapman, director, Frontline Benefits, explains, “I think the most universal impact is that benefits suddenly make your company more inclusive and accessible. Let’s say you’re hiring for a key position; you’re offering a competitive wage, have a great culture and flexible work hours, but that perfect candidate happens to have ADHD and their medication is nearly $3,000 per year. It becomes an issue if the employee cannot afford to work for you. So, I feel that it’s important that companies don’t lose out on great candidates due to not having benefits in place.”
Frontline’s slogan is “setting the bar for benefits” and they achieve this by getting to know the company’s goals and the type of employees that thrive there before crafting a customized solution that takes into account seamless plan administration, liability reduction and protection for key persons. For Chapman and his team, all these steps are important to help the company reach its long-term goals.
“A well-structured and properly communicated benefit program is a demonstration of a company’s commitment to its staff. My experience is that when a company demonstrates an investment in their team, their team wants to reciprocate. However, if you put a benefit plan in place but employees have difficulty making claims, getting service or the coverage limits are too low, it could have the opposite effect.”
Frontline also helps companies work with their benefit plans when proactive emergency response planning is necessary.
“When the first wave of lockdowns was announced in March of 2020, everyone felt an immediate panic,” says Chapman. “Our team felt it was prudent to be able to research and provide the benefits marketplace with resources to best navigate the uncertainty. We conducted webinars that were very well attended by not only our clients but the business community at large. These webinars covered topics such as how to continue benefits if massive layoffs were to occur; will you need to cancel your benefit plan; and what resources are available in the way of remote health care, counseling and relief so that your staff isn’t losing sleep. I was very proud of how our team responded during this time of uncertainty and it turned out we were able to maintain over 90 per cent of our existing accounts throughout the lockdowns.”
Even with help at hand to customize affordable benefit plans, many smaller companies still shy away, thinking this is an expense they simply cannot afford; but, as Chapman points out, there are options.
“The biggest misunderstanding is how a consumer’s or potential consumer’s rates will be calculated. If the marketplace understood how experience or pooled rates were calculated, they would feel much more empowered to make the best decision for their company. A well-structured and properly communicated benefit plan, in most cases, is more preferred and cost-effective than a $1/hour pay raise. Keep in mind, however, that the most expensive plan is the one that doesn’t work. Determine what is important to you and don’t be swayed by price. I’ve seen far too many poorly structured plans be a real detriment to hiring efforts.”
Another firm that helps companies of all sizes afford benefit plans for employees is HFI Benefits Inc.
Phil D. Jones, president and employee benefits specialist, leads this company that specializes in benefit plan review and design, Admin Services Only (ASO), partial self-insurance claims funding through group insurers, Health Spending Accounts (HSA) and Wellness Spending Accounts (WSA), in addition to traditional options. HFI has a combined 70 years of group insurer and advisory experience to help businesses with as few as 10 employees and corporations up to 500 employees and more.
Jones notes, “If you’re looking to improve your benefit plan, and/or looking to reduce the cost of your current plan, we can help. We have helped our clients get control of the costs of their benefit plans, improve their offerings and save significant annual dollars, which can then be utilized to either improve the overall benefit plan offerings or put them elsewhere within the business. We have a sound technically-based understanding of employee benefits stemming from years of experience and we know how to ensure your plan is progressive and affordable, year over year, to give you the best benefit plan for your money.”
One way HFI achieves this is to blend core insurance (traditional life, disability, health and dental, etc.) with a combined flex spending account (HSA and WSA), which many times includes ASO as part of the solution.
For example, by using HFI’s QubeFlex 2.0 flex spending account, which combines the HSA and WSA and is administered through a web-based app, employees can allocate flex credits towards the health benefits they want. This frees them up from things like not being able to get a massage, for example, because the company plan does not include that; or, gain the ability to allocate more credits towards medication or dental needs. Even better is the vast range of coverages available under an HSA or WSA – a range that goes outside of traditional health and dental benefit plans.
The HSA can cover healthcare, dental care, vision care and health plan premiums, etc. The WSA can be used for gym memberships, exercise equipment, domestic assistance such as house cleaning and snow removal, volunteerism benefits, registered educational and/or retirement savings plans or childcare, etc., as the employer has a lot more control of choice while still working within the liberal CRA parameters (for WSA spending accounts in particular).
The bottom line is this: benefits help companies of all sizes thrive. Happy employees that feel the company cares invest in their employers, and therefore drive productivity. Benefits are not static – they are not simply “choose plan A, B or C.” There are a variety of ways to structure plans to meet needs and to provide customize coverage that matters to your team. While some employees need robust dental to take care of their child’s braces, others may need help around the house due to mental or mobility concerns. Your plan can accommodate both. Benefits can be used for emergency planning too, by protecting interests in the death or disablement of key employees or by supporting your team through sudden upsets like a pandemic. Costs can be controlled by an ASO plan, employee buy-in and other options. The investment on all fronts provides a high ROI across every department.
No matter how you look at it, workplace benefit plans have plenty of benefits – for the owners, for the team, for their families. Healthy companies have healthy teams. Healthy teams are more productive at work, at home and in the community. The benefit of benefits is far reaching, so invest in your team today.
Want to learn more about these and other plans? Contact our interview subjects at www.frontlinebenefits.com and hfi-benefits.ca.