Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: The Worth of Health Insurance
This article relates to the Compensation and Benefits Competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. The questions included in this competency will help your organization determine whether your employees feel they are fairly paid for the work they perform when compared to a similar job at a different company. This competency also queries their feelings regarding the adequacy and quality of their benefits package. A fair and attractive compensation package is critical for hiring and retaining quality employees. A high satisfaction level in this competency requires that your compensation structure and benefits package be fair, balanced, and understood by your present employees.
This article, The Worth of Health Insurance, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales from the Corporate Frontlines. It focuses specifically on the value of employer provided health insurance to employees in today's workplace and economic climate.
Large salary increases are rare these days, especially for mid level, mid career employees. Having worked at the same small, family owned business for about ten years now, my fellow employees and I were accustomed to getting about the same raise every year. It never varied very much, and we considered it fair, especially since the business was quite solid and successful with a steady profit stream for the past several years.
That's why we were all so shocked this year when our expected increase amount was cut in half. After the shock faded, the office was abuzz with speculation "the company is going under, that sales rep, Mr. Brown, lost that lucrative account, I knew this would happen, the owners are just getting greedy, they're thinking of selling to a large multinational" - were some of the stories considered.
Finally, our general manager caught wind of the discussions and settled us down for a meeting. He told us that the reason the increases had been cut was that the health insurance program premiums had risen very sharply. The owners decided that rather than require the employees to pay more for the insurance, it would be better to pay the extra premium and give smaller salary increases. He told us that many companies are handling rising premiums in much the same way.
Many employees, myself included, were skeptical. Sure, we told each other. That's a good story. And we picked up where we'd left off with our previous speculations.
That night, I received a phone call. It was my sister, and she was crying. She's a stay- at- home mom, her husband has been downsized, and the family is at the point where it has to pay for health insurance. As my sister tearfully recited the rates she'd been quoted, I was beyond shock. It amounted to a small fortune. After she hung up, I went online to my health insurance provider website. I checked the rate I would pay without my employer contribution. The price difference was far higher than my raise reduction, and the coverage wasn't as good.
Humbled, I went to work the next day and told my coworkers what I'd discovered. We'd all underestimated the worth of a solid benefit plan with good health insurance in today's workplace and economy. Suddenly our salary increase seemed a lot larger.
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