Top tips for maximising the return on investment in dental benefits

Dental benefits are a staple part of many employee benefits packages and can often help employers to attract and retain staff.

Dental benefits

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  • Employers can boost dental benefits take-up by highlighting the importance of good oral health to staff.
  • Regular communication campaigns promoting the benefit should be complemented by leaflets, posters, webinars and benefits fairs.
  • Onsite or near-site dental treatment can help to limit an employee’s time out of the workplace.

Dental insurance is one of the most common perks offered to staff through a flexible benefits scheme, with 22% of employers providing it in this way, according to Employee Benefits’ Benefits research 2014 , published in May 2014. But employers need to ensure that the money they invest in making the benefit available to staff is generating a good return on investment (ROI). 

Here are some top tips to help employers optimise their ROI. 

1. Highlight the importance of good oral health

It may seem obvious, but employers need to ensure their staff are aware of how important it is to look after their oral health. Pam Whelan, head of corporate at dental healthcare provider Denplan, says: “The product is almost a vehicle to achieve it, but ultimately we have to start changing behaviours and making people aware. It’s about education and informing and making [employees] aware of the importance of good oral health.”

2. Incorporate the benefit into a health and wellbeing strategy

A common driver for organisations to implement dental benefits is a focus on employee health and wellbeing, so including the perks as part of an overall strategy can help employers to drive take-up of the benefit. “Forward-thinking employers recognise the value of not just good oral health, but also improving general health and wellbeing,” says Whelan. “A dental plan is absolutely vital in achieving that.”

Visits to the dentist will not only identify any dental health risks that an employee may face, but also any general health risks. Gum disease, for example, is believed to be linked to cardiovascular problems, lung disease, diabetes and bowel cancer.

3. Regularly communicate the benefit to staff 

Andrew Morris, business development director at National Dental Plan, says: “Good communication is absolutely essential. To ensure employees get the most out of [a benefit], they’ve got to know all about it.”

Employers must ensure that staff are aware of what is included in their dental plan through a variety of communication methods. A flexible benefits scheme, for example, can be used to promote the benefit, as well as engaging literature, posters, webinars and benefits fairs.    

Employers can also partner with their benefits providers to run national campaigns to highlight dental benefits, such as National Smile Month, which runs from 18 May to 18 June, October’s Stoptober and various cancer awareness months.

4. Promote new product development

Developments in the dental benefits market invariably come from developments in dentistry. For example, implants are now offered quite widely in organisations. National Dental Plan is currently tracking the impact the perk will have on future policy claims.

Providers are also focusing on the technology involved in the claims process to make it easier for employees to use, for example, single sign-on through a flexible benefits system to gain easy access to dental benefits via an online claims portal.

5. Bring the dentist to the masses

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Employees may find it difficult to visit the dentist during working hours due to pressures on their time, which is why so many employers are now working with their dental insurers to provide services close to the workplace. Patrick Watt, corporate director at health insurer Bupa, says: ”When the dental proposition is linked to near-site or even onsite dental clinics, there’s an additional return on investment, because staff are away from their desks for less time.”

Onsite or near-site dental services can include a hygienist as well as a dentist.