Well, my friends, I think we can all agree the last 18+ months have been a whirlwind of uncertainty. While I am sure we all hope to never live through another year like the last, some of the changes and adjustments we’ve had to make have set the course for new opportunity.
National Program Director GLJ Benefit Consultants
Partially in response to meeting the needs of employees after a challenging 2020 — and partially due to advancements in technology and benefit options — it’s clear that the employee benefit landscape inside law firms has shifted and continues to change. My goal with this article is to highlight many of the new and most prevalent updates and additions to firm-offered benefits that we are seeing around the country and even the international community.
EAP: EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The pandemic amplified the need for a robust EAP program focused on behavioral health. Personal mental challenges and serious crises like deep depression, alcoholism, domestic abuse and suicide ideation are all real day-to-day issues that many of your firm partners, employees and their families face. When assistance is not readily available, not only do your employees and their families suffer, but these issues can also translate into the firm dealing with concerns of absenteeism and presenteeism.
Many medical plans have offered EAPs over the years. However, many of these plans stop at preset access and may not cover the types of mental health challenges that we are seeing today.
That’s why a stand-alone, robust EAP is necessary. Look for an EAP with the following elements:
24/7 online crisis access
One low cost per employee per month that covers the whole household
Unlimited online counseling
Minimum of eight live visits per occurrence or instance with a counselor if determined it’s needed
In the last year, telemedicine has gone from a “nice to have” benefit to a “have to have” one, elevating this method of phone and video care more firmly into the realm of standard health care.
Many medical insurance carriers have added some sort of telemedicine benefit to their plans. These embedded telemedicine offerings typically carry copays (ranging from $10–$50 per call) each time a patient uses the service. It’s important to note that using a telemedicine benefit embedded in a medical plan does affect a group’s experience or utilization numbers (the numbers used to determine whether there will be an increase to your medical plan at renewal).
Because of this, when looking for a telemedicine benefit, I suggest looking for:
A stand-alone telemedicine service that will not affect your firm’s medical plan utilization numbers
A program that provides coverage to your employee and their whole household for one fee
A $0 copay program
A program that provides unlimited, 24/7/365 access to medical assistance
Rx DISCOUNT CARDS
Paying for prescriptions can really break the bank. But savvy consumers are finding that free Rx discount cards — such as Clever RX and GoodRx — are helpful in keeping their prescription costs down. Savvy employers are learning about the availability of these no-cost cards and are providing employees information on how they can lower their prescription costs with one.
“Many medical plans have offered EAPs over the years. However, many of these plans stop at preset access and may not cover the types of mental health challenges that we are seeing today.”
This one may seem simple, but sharing valuable, easy solutions like these can affect an employee’s pocketbook, creating one more solid reason employees love to work for you!
Pet Insurance is by far the fastest growing employee benefit offered in the marketplace today. Our furry friends need quality care, and employees are looking to their employers to lead the way in offering an option to buy pet insurance — especially as individual marketplace pet insurance can be a little pricey.
If you’re considering this benefit, we strongly recommend you look for a program that:
Offers group discounts
Provides various options to fit your employees’ pet needs
Allows for employer contribution flexibility
PERSONAL IDENTITY THEFT SECURITY
The ability to work from anywhere is great — but only if the security is great, too. Helping employees secure their personal assets and information is vital to the financial wellness of your workforce.
Let’s face it: Cyber risks are part of our reality, and firms must find ways to help their staff and partners protect not only company assets and information but also personal information. There are many identity theft products on the market that help to secure personal and financial data. If your firm is considering this benefit, be sure to look for a program that includes:
Social media protection
Identity theft recovery service
Credit and privacy protection resources
Employee and family coverage options
ON THE HORIZON
These are just a few of the new and updated employee benefits that are becoming widely popular in firms around the globe. And there’s more on the horizon …
Everyday Discounts and Perks
Everyday consumer discounts and perks programs are an emerging trend in the employer marketplace. Just look around you — even McDonald’s has a perks program now.
However, a solid perks program does not just accumulate points for future use or cashback; it also provides discounts at point of purchase with retailers, restaurants, and goods and services across the board at time of purchase. Keep your eye out for these “perks”-style programs coming to market soon.
Watch for an influx of interest in payroll advancement options in the near future. The ability to access advance payroll funds through auto deposits and the ability to collect and exchange funds in the consumer marketplace are benefit offerings coming soon to the employer payroll world.
As an ALA member firm, you have access to resources and programs mentioned in this article through the ALA VIP Program. I invite you to take advantage of the education and solutions at your fingertips. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your business partners with questions throughout the year or stop by and say hi at one of the ALA conferences — we’re here to help provide education and essential solutions!
About the Author
Alan Wilson is the National Program Director atGLJ Benefit Consultants, where he started as an Employee Benefits Specialist in 2004. Since 2006, he has spearheaded the effort within GLJBC to reach out to law firms nationally regarding their benefits and how to use those benefits to help attract and retain quality personnel. Wilson has written articles for Legal Management, speaks frequently on benefits at conferences and consults with individual law firms nationally.