Every industry has different and specific needs with respect to their group benefits offering. As specialists in employee benefits for not-for-profit organizations, we have learned that there are a number of unique items not-for-profit organizations should consider when implementing a benefits plan or making changes to their plan.
1. What is the purpose of the group benefits plan for your organization? Does your organization simply want to offer a basic benefit to employees to provide some support, or does the organization want to compete with the benefits offered in the for-profit sector. Determining the purpose will assist in building the plan that is right for your organization.
2. What role does your board play in evaluating and approving group benefits changes? If your organization is planning to implement a new plan or make major changes, ensure that lead time is built in for the plan to be presented to and approved by your board of directors.
3. Is there an opportunity for your local not-for-profit chapter to join a larger National Plan that is accessible through your parent organization? Or would a multi-employer plan that is specifically created for not-for-profits make sense for your organization? Small to medium sized organizations often consider the opportunity to be pooled with other similar organizations which provides a variety of plan options and more buying power. These types of plans allow organizations to share risk and provide enhanced sustainable coverage.
4. Does your organization have a number of staff not considered permanent due to ongoing funding constraints but have been renewed for multiple terms? Organizations faced with this challenge may want to join a multi-employer plan with flexible eligibility requirements for temporary staff serving consecutive terms.
5. Not-for-profit organizations should consider the addition of an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) to their benefits offering when possible. Employees working in non-profit and social services organizations are often dealing with emotionally charged and stressful situations which may at times require professional and confidential support. EAP programs provide anonymous counselling services to employees to assist in working through stress, personal issues and difficult family matters.
6. A comprehensive basic benefits plan can assist in recruiting and retaining high quality employees. Some organizations do not offer comprehensive benefits to their employees which can impact their ability to attract new employees.
Benefits plans that provide enhanced value, communication, education and sustainable rates are the ultimate goal for virtually all organizations and the not-for-profit sector is no different. Not-for-profits do have the opportunity to address their unique considerations and challenges through a variety of plan options.