Pam Whelan: How to create a dental plan

Dental healthcare is a growing priority for employees, so employers need to understand how to create a compelling plan to offer them.

Dental is one of the fastest-growing employee benefits, so it is important for employers to keep up to date with the latest dental news. This will help them provide the best market knowledge and understanding to their staff.

According to a Denplan/YouGov online survey of 4,116 UK adults, conducted in January 2013, 61% of employees believe a dental plan is a tangible, usable benefit; and 63% of employers agree, according to a Denplan online survey of 503 UK employers, also conducted in January.

So how should employers go about creating one? They should first identify their objectives. Do they want to provide cover for all employees or a select few, such as management? Do they want to fund the cover or offer the plan as a flexible benefit or as part of a cash plan, so staff can take up cover when they need it?

Discussion with provider

Employers should have an in-depth discussion with their dental healthcare provider about what they want to achieve by introducing dental as a benefit.

But employers first need to conduct a beauty parade of providers to find one that best suits their needs. They should consider product and service offerings, value-added services, ongoing support and overall cost. Some providers offer value-added services, such as annual research and bespoke literature to encourage staff engagement, as well as access to dental healthcare discounts.

A good provider will also be able to share the latest developments in the dental industry with an employer and tailor products to promote preventive dental care for its workforce.

Type of benefits

Once selected, a provider will consider the type of benefits an employer is willing to offer and on what funding basis, plus finer details, such as the organisation’s location and wider wellbeing strategy.

A number of factors will help determine the best plan for an employer, but dental has the flexibility to be structured and delivered to suit any organisation.

Organisations need a minimum of three employees for an employer-funded plan and 100 employees for flexible and salary sacrifice-based offerings. The final plan will depend on an employer’s budget, location, employee demands and wellbeing aspirations, and some other key drivers.

Dental benefits do not generally pose many challenges, but a key factor in the launch of a plan is the communication strategy. Employees need compelling and informative information to understand what is being offered and how to make the most of their plan. Dental healthcare providers should be able to help employers devise an effective communications strategy, which may include posters, communication templates and information for the organisation’s intranet.

Specific requirements

The length of time it takes to create and implement a plan is driven by an employer’s internal sign-off process and its specific requirements. That said, the provider should work with the employer to help deliver an effective solution within any specified timeframe.

A corporate dental plan should be both flexible and easy to implement and, if successful, should provide a great tool to engage employees and encourage greater loyalty from them, so it’s win-win for employers and employees alike.

By offering the benefit across the board, rather then just to senior staff, all employees feel valued.

Ultimately, dental plans are great as part of a corporate wellbeing package because everyone can use them.

Employers can enhance the effectiveness of their benefits package with a dental plan with little financial outlay, because dental is a particularly low-cost benefit.

 

KEY POINTS

  • Employers should work with dental healthcare providers to create a suitable strategy for their staff.
  • Employee communication is key to explaining the value of a plan.
  • Preventative dental care should feature within all dental plans.

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Pam Whelan is head of corporate at Denplan