When you discuss benefits with your employees, it’s likely that rising health insurance costs will be a topic at the front of their minds. Your employees, once signed up for your company benefits package, expect that costs will remain mostly the same. That, unfortunately, isn’t the reality, with premium costs likely to rise again in 2015. How can you explain this clearly to your staff?
- Do your homework before talking to employees. We can all get panicked when we read about rising costs, but try to keep this kind of discussion to a minimum. By making an appointment with your accountant and insurance broker to discuss the costs and effects, you’ll already be well-versed in the available facts when you talk to employees.
- Highlight plan improvements and advantages. It’s easy to view pricier health plans as an overall negative, but employees should be encouraged to see the positive side. Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, benefits covered by the average health plan weren’t as diverse. Newer plans, while more expensive, often offer more varied coverage than what was available in the past. Prepare a document that highlights just how much employees are getting in exchange for the higher costs in an attempt to get unhappy employees on board.
- Provide other perks that aren’t financially based. Increased health insurance costs mean that there isn’t as much money to spend on your employees outside of wages and benefits, but you can make minimal-cost offerings to your workers that can make a difference for them. For instance, offering flexible schedules, including the ability to work from home or set specific hours, is a low-cost option that shows employees that you’re working with their needs in mind. Also, offering voluntary benefits like supplemental life insurance can give your employees new types of coverage without adding to your costs (voluntary products are 100% employee-paid.)
- Provide wellness plans. While you may not be able to do much to change costs in 2015, keeping plan consumption low will help keep future costs down. Encourage your employees to participate in wellness programs, which can take the form of discounted gym memberships, friendly fitness-tracking competitions or opportunities to get active during the workday. Encourage people to take sick days so that they can recover quickly, rather than getting worse and requiring more expensive care. Explain that health insurance costs are directly affected by how plan members use those benefits. A healthier workforce means lowered costs.
You and your employees don’t need to panic over rising costs. Just be prepared to explain what is going on in terms of rates, underline the positive aspects of contemporary benefits packages, and encourage your workers to live active, healthy lives.
This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax and/or other professional advisers.
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.