For Crown Paints, health cash plans are a historic benefit. Hannah Uttley finds out how the organisation mixes the plan into its overall health and wellbeing offering.
- Crown Paints are keen to support the growing demographic and provide benefits accordingly
- In a labour intensive industry it is not uncommon for employees to suffer from strain related injuries over time, so a health cash plan can help prevent long term absences
- With good scheme usage stats the firm believes it is clear the benefit is valued
Health cash plans have been a key part of Crown Paints' benefits package for over 20 years. It was a support mechanism initially introduced to assist employees with the rising costs associated with private and NHS medical and dental treatments.
Increasingly the employer realised the waiting times and expenses associated with other conditions such as back pain and other such musculoskeletal issues were a common theme.
HR officer Emma Powell explains: "Manufacturing in its nature and more so historically has entailed fairly manual roles so in terms of health conditions it would not be uncommon in the field to see strain related conditions arise over time. We do also have a number of employees with long service, so in reviewing our employee benefit offerings, we do need to consider the age profile of the workforce and the benefits we need in place accordingly."
Currently employing just over 1,100 individuals, all employees of the manufacturing firm have access to the BHSF cash plan, which is funded by Crown Paints.
Everyone is auto-enrolled onto the scheme (unless they choose to opt out) when joining the company and it now has over 80% uptake - including some employee's family members. Staff are covered under level one of the plan by Crown Paints and have the option to top up cover on certain benefits themselves.
Staying on target
As well as claiming back the costs for treatments such as dental care, eye tests and physiotherapy, staff also have access to counselling and a confidential helpline under BHSF's Employee Assistance Programme.
"We've seen approximately 2,000 claims over the past 12 months. For a workforce of 1,100 that's quite good in terms of usage, illustrating the scheme's worth and value," Powell explains.
"The majority of claims at the moment are going towards dental and optical, which I would expect are probably the most regularly occurring medical treatments. So those are the things that can hit the bank balance because they're regular requirements. Followed by those, therapies - including physiotherapies - are claimed for the most."
However, because the scheme has been in place for over 20 years, Powell says it has been tricky to determine exactly how it has impacted absence levels.
But for Crown Paints this is not a major concern. This year, for example, the business has managed to maintain below average or on target absence levels. It is perhaps because the business has such health related benefits in place that it can lend support in keeping its employees healthy and active in the workplace.
"If we were paying for a scheme and the usage stats were a bit low we would be concerned that perhaps we're not hitting the right point in terms of what employees want and need. But because we've got those good usage stats we feel it's safe to assume that we are getting good value for money and most importantly, that the employees are getting the assistance they need," Powell adds.
"We do strongly believe that this scheme, because it is so valued and greatly utilised by the employees, has a positive impact on absence levels and the return to work process. Because we're able to achieve low level absence, overall we're not overly concerned at the moment."
Caring and enabling
Powell notes that obtaining management information is an essential part of its operation and is a straight-forward process enabling the company to see how the plan has supported employees in times of difficulty.
"BHSF can give us a general idea of what's been claimed for over the past 12 months, how many claims have gone through and we have an automated report that comes through on the employee assistance programme which gives us an idea how many people are making use of that side of the scheme and the support offered on the counselling, stress management and financial problems side as well, in an entirely confidential anonymous fashion." she says.
In order to achieve a greater understanding of what the workforce thinks about the benefits offering, Powell admits that a survey could be on the cards in the future, but for now she says the focus is on continually educating and communicating with staff on the range of benefits that already exist.
The organisation tries its best to engrain a caring and enabling culture within its overall strategy.
"Our employee benefits package, focusing on health, wellness, family and financial savings, along with occupational health assistance at our two main sites, creates a health conscious environment in which our employees can thrive and be supported through day-to-day life.
"By offering the health cash plan and other benefits such as the Employee Assistance Programme, childcare vouchers and cycle to work scheme, we feel we are illustrating that we do have that ‘we care' approach and we do enable and engage people in the areas that they need help and support - whether that's needing help with savings or making healthy lifestyle decisions," she concludes.
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