Navigating the Tough Cost Conversation

Mar 08 | 2018

The cost conversation is one that Advisors are familiar with. An employer wants to provide their employees with health benefits, but either isn’t fully prepared for the cost of benefits, or balks when it comes to renewal increases. With the recent minimum wage increase in Ontario and with many other provinces following suit, employers may be considering how best to absorb the blow – including severely cutting or entirely eliminating employee benefits (like some Tim Hortons locations in Ontario).

So how do you go about convincing employers to maintain their benefits plan at a time when they’re already money-conscious? We’ve got a few tips to help you navigate the murky waters.

1. Highlight the Value of Employee Benefits

First, you want to highlight the importance and the value an employee benefits plan can bring an employer. It’s proven that happier, healthier employees work more productively and have higher levels of employee engagement. It’s also been shown that companies with workplace wellness and benefits programs simply perform better. There’s no question that an employee benefits plan helps keep employees happier and healthier. If that’s not enough to convince them, consider this:

6 in 10 employees feel their employer has some responsibility in ensuring their good health.

Sunlife Financial: A Strategic Dose of Wellness

If employers aren’t meeting the expectations of their employees, they may begin seeing the exact opposite effects of happy, healthy employees.

There’s also much to be said for attracting top talent. Employers offering a good benefits plan have an edge over their competitors: their workplaces will look more attractive to top performers.

2. Focus on the Positive

The second thing to keep in mind when talking about cost is to focus on the positive. It’s really easy to talk about all of the concerns an employer has when it comes to providing benefits. You should still address them, but making sure you provide a positive solution to those concerns is usually your best way forward.

Let’s talk about putting a positive spin on some common barriers you might encounter when talking to employers about cost.

  • Barrier #1: Renewal increases. It’s a common pain point with groups up for renewal, and one you’re likely familiar with.
    • How to Handle: We evaluate renewals on an individual basis, and our knowledgeable Client Service team can work with you to suggest plan design changes or recommended other services to help offset the increase.
  • Barrier #2: Rising cost of employment. Minimum wage increases across the country may be hitting employers hard, and money is likely on their mind.
    • How to Handle: We’ll work with you to determine the options available to groups on an individual basis. Change of plan design and offerings for existing groups is possible, and options exist for virgin groups to start slow with flexible, cost-conscious options.
  • Barrier #3: Cutting back or eliminating benefits plans. With increases at renewal or the rising cost of employment (or even both), employers may be looking to reduce their benefits offerings in order to save dollars.
    • How to Handle: Options exist that will allow employers to control the cost of their plan while still offering benefits to their employees. Be ready to speak about the various options available to them.

There’s almost always something that can be done: sometimes it’s as simple as a change in plan design, to keep Canadians healthy and well. Having highlighted the importance of a benefits plan and reassuring the client that you understand their concerns, it’s time to solve their problem for them.

3. Provide a Solution

Your third and final step is to provide a solution that addresses the employer’s concerns and solves their problem. Flexible options with a measure of cost predictability will allow employers to still offer benefits without the risk of unknown costs.

Products like Standalone® are an excellent cost-conscious solution. It’s a simple and safe solution because employers will only ever pay what they choose to offer employees, and employees will only use what they need to use. Employees get the coverage they most want and employers spend only what they want to spend – no surprise renewal increases. This allows you to maintain coverage and focus on insuring what your employees really value – whether that be wellness initiatives, dental, overall health or other flexible options.

When times are tough and money is tight, consider options like Standalone®.

Learn more