Lucy Pearce, advo’s Head of Employee Benefits recently outlined her views on the importance of dental cover in a recent article in Cover magazine.
Over half of UK companies (56%) have received employee requests to introduce a dental employee benefit. Mindful of this statistic Lucy Pearce comments on advo’s approach to dental.
“A large number of our customers include dental as standard in their benefit propositions. This tends to be seen even more with central London customers, particularly in the finance and private equity sectors, where dental clinics are more numerous and easier to access.
advo predominantly looks after are SMEs and smaller corporates, typically those with up to 500 employees. Of these about 60% either have dental or are actively interested in wanting to include within their staff benefit proposition. advo account managers actively promote this as an important part of any staff benefit package.
Through our employee surveys, we find dental is highly rated by employees, matching the findings of wider surveys where dental comes out as one of the main benefits employees want to have.
Employees know that dental is a staff benefit they will use. I think the perception is that private medical insurance is there when you are poorly, whereas dental is seen as an easily accessible benefit that people know they will claim on it throughout the year. I would definitely say this benefit has increased in popularity driven in part by the change in the general approach to wellness that we have seen in our industry.
Companies are more aware of health and wellbeing in the workplace and dental fits nicely within this. When clients are reviewing their wellness strategies, thinking about how to engage people in benefits and how to retain individuals through a competitive staff package, then dental definitely should form part of these conversations.
There is a big education piece that still needs to be done regarding the direct connection between general health and oral health, I think the big misconception remains that there is not a link between the two. Poor oral health can increase the risk of all kinds of other health complications including serious conditions such as strokes, diabetes and heart-related problems. The communication is out there to inform HR staff of the importance and added risks but there needs to be a clearer message.
Setting up a new dental scheme is a relatively painless process. From a HR point of view, they do not need to get too involved, a good broker will handle this. Once in place ongoing management for HR is also generally low. A lot of the dental providers now have online claims processes and most provide useful apps and some providers allow direct settlement within clinics, a completely seamless process that encourages good dental heath. The success of a dental scheme is however driven by communication and staff awareness, again something that a good broker can advise on.
The only frustration from a broker point of view is that it is a reasonably small market in terms of the number of companies we are able to do business with only four or five main players. These are good, but from an advisory point of view, it would be great to have more options.
Dentistry is something which is needed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. This makes a dental plan a popular product for both your clients and their employees.”
We have outlined reasons why the inclusion dental cover is important when creating a balanced staff benefit package.
Popular with staff
A poll by The Oral Health Foundation in May 2017 discovered that about one in 20 UK employees have been forced to take time off work in the last year due to oral health issues. This means an estimated 1.2 million days of work have been missed in the past year, costing the UK economy more than £105m annually. Dental plans are an everyday, tangible benefit with advantages for both your clients as employers who can maintain the health and wellbeing of their workforce, and their employees who are able to claim back the cost of their oral health care including routine, restorative and emergency dental treatment.
Duty of care
All-encompassing dental plans address an employer’s duty of care obligations to their employees by supporting the three pillars of good health in the workplace: physical, mental and financial wellbeing. The oral health of your clients’ employees has an impact on their general health and wellbeing with links shown between gum disease, heart disease and diabetes.
It is now widely recognised that there are proven links between gum disease and serious health conditions. Dentists can diagnose gum disease and provide people with measures to treat the condition and prevent it from reoccurring, reducing their risk of other associated health problems. Offering a dental plan employee benefit helps prevent long-term illness from occurring, reducing employee absenteeism and saving your clients money in sick pay.
Dental problems can disturb how employees eat, sleep and work, affecting their mental wellbeing. By enabling employees to stay on top of their oral care, preventing dental problems before they occur can prevent any mental unrest or pain.
Offering staff dental as an employee benefit is a cost-effective way of facilitating access to private or NHS dentists without them having to worry about a large bill at the end of treatment. Dental plan cover can be extended to cover employees’ dependants and partners (both young and old), which can be funded either by the employer or the employee themselves. This can help to remove employees’ financial burdens of supporting their families’ everyday dental needs.
When it comes to looking for support 40% of employers choose to work with an intermediary to assist with the administration, research and delivery of their employee benefits packages
If you would like to find out more about how dental can improve a staff benefit package please email Lucy Pearce on firstname.lastname@example.org