Offering group coverage has positive effects on employers and employees alike.

After a competitive salary, a group benefit plan is often the deciding factor when a candidate is considering a job offer, says Glenn Kehrer, a certified employee benefit specialist and president of Group Benefits Consulting of Canada Inc. (GBCC).

“Employees will take a look at the benefit plan before taking a job – making sure there’s vision care in there or drug coverage – that sort of thing,” says Kehrer. “They view benefits as part of any job offer, and they do compare.”

Marla Descoteaux, human resources manager at Redfern Farm Services Ltd. (Redfern), says whether a company offers benefits is also a good indication of a its culture. “Having a group benefit package is an indicator to employees that the organization values their overall well-being and is committed to investing into employee wellness,” she says.

According to Descoteaux, this helps employees experience greater job satisfaction and establish organization engagement – a mental and emotional connection to their workplace – because they know the organization is invested in their health and well-being. As employees become more engaged and invested in the activities of the company, she says an organization will often see fewer safety incidents, higher levels of productivity, reduced absenteeism and increased staff retention.

Getting the Most Out of Your Plan

To take full advantage of the many benefits that come from offering a group benefit package, it’s important to ensure the plan meets the unique needs of your organization. Descoteaux says having a good understanding of their employees has allowed Redfern to create a benefit plan which employees value and see as relevant.

“Employee needs, wants and expectations of the benefit plan are driven by who we are; our age, gender, culture, health, et cetera,” she says. “A benefit plan is an investment; you want employees to use it and if the plan offers limited or no value, employees will not make use of it.”

Which health care benefits are most valued by employees has a lot to do with their age, Kehrer says, but dental coverage is the one health care benefit that people across all generations seem to value the most. After that, he says there are some distinct generational differences.

Based on Kehrer’s experience, workers in their 20s tend to favour vision care; in the 30s and 40s, coverage for physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy increases in importance. Over 50, he says medications are, by far, number one. “Once you hit 50, everyone seems to be prescribed something and having a drug plan to help pay for that is a good thing,” he says.

A company may also identify other non-generational factors which can be used to help shape its plan. For example, regardless of age, employees with physically demanding jobs may get a lot of use out of therapeutic services, like massage; those in high-stress positions might appreciate access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or counselling.

Time to Review

Even if a benefit plan is working well for a company, Kehrer says it’s important to conduct a yearly review. He recommends companies do a full assessment of the package once it has been in place for about a year, and annually after that. This will help to ensure the plan remains competitive and continues to meet employee needs.

To see how the plan is being used and identify areas where improvements can be made, the yearly review should include looking at the plan’s statistics, including claim activity. At Redfern, employee comments and requests are also taken into consideration by management during the review process.

“Every year our group benefit plan is reviewed,” says Redfern’s controller Monica Madden. “The review process helps our management team see if there are certain areas of coverage that we need to promote to our staff, or that we may want to consider changing. It also highlights developing trends in the industry and new product offerings that may be beneficial to our staff.”

The affiliation with CAAR provides us, as a smaller company, with a group benefit plan that rivals some of our larger competitors.
Monica Madden

CAAR Perk$

After many years of working closely with CAAR members, Kehrer and his team have developed programs for ag retailers that he says are unmatched in the industry. Madden, speaking for her team, says Redfern’s experience working with GBCC has been “awesome.”

“They are continually able to tailor a package to meet our changing requirements, and they are cognizant of how important pricing is to Redfern, so they are always looking out for our best interest,” she says. “The affiliation with CAAR provides us, as a smaller company, with a group benefit plan that rivals some of our larger competitors.”

To find out how GBCC can help you realize the many benefits of group benefits, visit the CAAR Perk$ page.

Read "Engaging Expertise," originally published in the October 2018 issue of The Communicator to learn more about the positive effects of employee engagement.

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