Given the strain that healthcare costs can put on your employees, doing your best as theiremployer to keep that money in your workers' pockets can have anenormous positive impact on their lives. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Your employees are a huge part of what drives your company'ssuccess, and they deserve a benefits plan that reflects the time and effortthey give to you and your business. This was the overarchingconcept that pushed me to stop being a traditional broker andbecome a business- and employee-focused benefits adviser instead, andit hit me when my own employees stepped up in a way I neveranticipated.

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On February 26, 2013, I got the news that my son had passed awayunexpectedly at the age of 22. Over the next two years, my lossleft little room for anything else in my mind, and I was mentally,physically and emotionally unable to run my business as I had beenbefore the tragedy. Were it not for the efforts of my employees, my business may verywell have gone under, but instead, they helped carry both me andthe company through a very difficult time.

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Related: How to retain good employees? Make them feelvalued.

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What my employees did for me during the most difficult time ofmy life ignited a new passion within me, and I redirected mypurpose towards helping employees and employers receive a betterhealth care experience. I stopped seeing benefits as just anotherexpense that had little to offer business owners and their workers,and now, I dedicate my work to helping people save more money whilegetting high-quality health care.

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Here's why your benefits plan can and should be used to showappreciation for your employees:

More than a piece of paper

Many business owners may see their benefits plan as just anotherabstract document they have to sign, but your employees view theirhealth care as so much more than just another expense. The qualityof your benefits plan can determine not only your employees'health, but also their financial well-being and the health of theirfamily members.

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Just as my employees took care of my business when I wasincapacitated by my personal tragedy, you can take care of youremployees during difficult times by ensuring that their health careneeds are provided for. Imagine, for example, that your employeesuffers an accident or is diagnosed with a life-changing disease.You may not be able to turn back time and undo the harm that hasbefallen them, but by providing them with a great benefits plan,you can ensure that:

  • They have access to the best possible health care
  • They're not paying unnecessarily high cost for equal-qualityservices
  • They're educated about their options and have control overtheir health care

These factors can make a huge difference in removing additionalstressors for employees who are already facing a difficult time intheir lives.

A better financial future

You know firsthand how hard your employees work for their money,and a very large portion of that work will go towards paying fortheir health care. In 2016, the Department of Health and HumanServices reported that health care costs surpassed $10,000 perperson for the first time, and that price tag has only continued toskyrocket since then. Deductibles alone can cost thousands ofdollars, and your employees may or may not have enough saved up topay for them immediately if they require medical attention.

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Given the strain that these costs can put on your employees,doing your best as their employer to keep that money in yourworkers' pockets can have an enormous positive impact on theirlives. Imagine what a difference a few thousand dollars in reduceddeductibles, copays, and premiums could make for an employee whoneeds a new car, is struggling to pay bills, or simply wants awell-deserved vacation. Helping your employees make betterfinancial choices for their health care can drastically improvetheir lives.

An opportunity to give back

If you've hired employees who go the extra mile when it comes totheir work, your benefits plan should do the same for them. Workwith your adviser to find creative ways to develop a plan thatdelivers top-quality benefits with a little something extra.Consider options such as:

  • Technological solutions – Telehealth servicescan give your employees access to medical professionals at allhours of the day, giving them reassurance that they'll never bestranded even if they have a medical concern at 2 a.m.
  • Concierge services – If you have an employeewho requires an extended hospital stay, consider providing themwith a concierge who can make their time recovering away from homea more positive and convenient experience.
  • Financial incentives – Paying $3,000 toincentivize your employee to drive to a medical facility acrosstown that offers a procedure for $15,000 less than a closer optioncan help both you and your employee.

Your benefits plan has the potential to be a great way for youto show your employees that you, too, are willing to give 110percent to show your appreciation.

The emotional side of benefits

No matter what goods or services your business offers, it'sultimately a human-based company. Using your benefits plan as a wayto treat your employees like the valued people they are instead ofa means to an end creates a culture of compassion in the workplace.When times get hard, that compassion can go a long way.


James Blachek is co-founder of The BenefitsGroup.

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