4 types of group benefits that could improve your employee plan

4 min read

When companies build their employee health plans, we find that most choose to offer a few particular types of group benefits that the majority of business owners and employees are familiar with.  These include items like coverage for dental, extended health, maybe some paramedical expenses, and disability benefits. It’s often also the case that companies put their benefits plan in place and then for many years, they leave it exactly how it is.  

These standard benefits truly are some of the most sought-after by employees; but there are a few other types of group benefits that we think could be good choices to consider if you want to upgrade your plan, and create more incentive to keep or attract staff. Not to mention, many of these options have added perks for your business in terms of employee health, wellness, happiness, and productivity.

Health Spending Accounts and Wellness Spending Accounts

Health Spending Accounts (or HSAs) and Wellness Spending Accounts (or WSAs) are benefit accounts with a set maximum dollar amount, and a lot of flexibility for your employees.  As the employer, you get to decide how big your employees’ HSAs or WSAs are each year, and you, along with your benefits provider, can define what types of benefits employees can use them for.  

HSAs are non-taxable benefits and are often used to cover employees’ annual deductibles or the percent that employees pay for their services. They can even replace your traditional extended health and dental plan completely and allow employees to pay for those services directly, and how they choose.  

WSAs, on the other hand, are taxable benefits, and can cover non-traditional health and wellness support, like fitness classes, public transportation, childcare, and more. 

Top Reasons to add a Health Spending Account and/or Wellness Spending Account to your plan: 

  • Flexibility for your staff
  • Cost control for your company
  • The opportunity to provide more diverse options without breaking the bank

Employee Assistance Programs

An Employee Assistance Program (EAPs) can be an invaluable resource to your employees.  These programs provide confidential counselling (often 24/7), educational resources, and referral services. They can help your staff deal with a wide range of difficulties, from life changes like divorce, death, and becoming a parent; to mental health challenges; to smoking cessation, and much more.  Adding an EAP to your plan is a great way to help your staff enjoy better emotional and mental wellness. And when they’re able to better manage life’s challenges, they’ll be more capable of bringing their best to work every day.  

As great as EAPs are, they are sometimes underused; so, if you add an EAP to your plan, we always recommend educating your staff about it, sending them periodic reminders, and emphasizing that the services are confidential.  

Top reasons to add an Employee Assistance Program to your plan

  • Support your staff to be their best, and enjoy their lives at home and at work.
  • Reduce absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover.
  • Provide a resource that could potentially help your staff prevent future disabilities and illness (and costs of a short or long-term disability claim).

Critical Illness Insurance

Many employers have some kind of short or long-term disability insurance included in their plan, but Critical Illness Insurance (CII) could be a great addition.  

CII benefits provide your employees with a lump sum payment, usually after a certain period, if they experience and survive a critical illness like cancer, heart attack, or stroke. These three illnesses are responsible for a startling 50% of deaths in Canada, and when they strike, it’s important that your staff have enough financial support available to help them focus on getting well.  

If Critical Illness Insurance benefits are claimed, the lump sum payout can be used however your employee choses, whether to support unexpected drug costs; replace lost income if a loved one leaves work to provide care; try different treatments that may not be covered under other insurance; or anything else that they so choose.

Top reasons to add Critical Illness Insurance to your plan

  • Take care of your staff when they face one of Canada’s top killers.
  • CII is typically a low or no-cost addition to your plan.

Virtual Healthcare

The internet has made so much in our lives more convenient, and now, some benefits providers are starting to bring your medical health services online too.  Virtual Healthcare is a very new player in the field of group benefits, but it’s one that we expect to make big waves in the coming years.  

Adding a virtual healthcare option to your plan means your staff can access health services and consultations virtually, and they can easily coordinate their virtual healthcare appointments around their workday.  This ease of use can help encourage more consistent and immediate care, and prevent small concerns from becoming bigger. In surveys, virtual healthcare is particularly popular among Millenials, and a large percent of Canadians have said they’d be willing to trade some of their other benefits for this great option.

Top reasons to add Virtual Healthcare to your plan

  • Make seeing a medical professional easier for your staff, and encourage more proactive and earlier care and management of health concerns.
  • Reduce absenteeism for medical appointments as staff can typically access virtual care 24/7.
  • Provide consistent healthcare support for staff who travel often for work.

We’ve shared a few types of group benefits that could be good additions if you’re looking to offer different, more, or better incentives in your employee benefits package.  If you’d like more information about any of these benefits, feel free to get in touch to learn more, or to look at changing your company’s benefits package.