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Q: What are the benefits of a benefits plan?

A: Although expensive, there are many intrinsic benefits to providing your employees with a comprehensive benefit plan. For most, it is the ability to find and keep highly qualified staff that is the key driver. With the sector being highly competitive and the number of new employees entering the workforce dwindling, employers are challenged to become even more creative and responsive in the design, timing and generosity of their benefit plans. The more progressive the organisation, the more flexible the structure is in response to today’s challenges: i.e. like having four different generations of employees working side by side. Employers who continue to provide the more traditional and limited program, may find it more difficult to find and keep different types of employees.

Here are just a few of the advantages of offering benefits to your employees:

For employers:

  • By providing increased access and flexibility in employee benefits, employers can not only recruit but retain qualified employees
  • Providing benefits to employees is seen as managing high-risk coverage at low costs and easing the company’s financial burden
  • Employee benefits have been proven to improve productivity because employees are more effective with they are assured of security for themselves and their families
  • Premiums are tax deductible as corporation expense, which means savings for the organisation

For employees:

  • Employees can experience a peace of mind which leads to increased productivity and satisfaction by being assured that they are their families are protected in any mishap
  • Employees with personal life and disability insurance can enjoy additional protection including income replacement in the event of serious illness or disability
  • Employees can feel a sense of pride in their employer if they are satisfied with the coverage they receive

 

Q: Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs)

A: An EAP, or employee assistance program, is a confidential, short term, counseling service for employees with personal problems that affect their work performance. Studies have shown that providing confidential qualified counseling and support can reduce the stress and conflict felt by the employee, which in-turn can reduce absenteeism and ultimately turnover.

One-on-one sessions are offered and online information, coaching and support services are also available. Employees turn to the EAP for help with a variety of issues, including the following:

  • Dependent care issues, such as searching for child care information, identifying services for special needs children, obtaining advice on the college application process, or arranging for residential care for an elder.
  • Dealing with the stress of a major life change (even a positive one), such as having or adopting a child, getting married, moving or buying a home, or getting a promotion.
  • Serious personal or professional concerns, such as general anxiety, depression, substance abuse, burnout, coping with illness, the loss of a loved one, relationship challenges, or resolving interpersonal conflicts.

Different types of programs are available to employers to provide employee assistance. Employers can establish their own in-house programs, join a consortium of organizations to provide external services or refer employees to public and private providers of this service. The range of costs across these options can vary widely. Organizations must then decide the most advantageous approach to achieve the level of improved wellness among their employees.

In selecting the best EAP provider, several factors need to be considered:

  • How accessible and convenient are the services to be provided? Location of offices and confidentially concerns are important here.
  • How is the quality of services to be measured?
  • How is client satisfaction to be assessed?
  • How are service costs to be determined and will there be limits placed on the frequency and extent of services provided? What will the charges be per hour of service per individual?

Before choosing an EAP provider, these questions need to be answered and the answers reflected in any service proposal or contract.