Arkansas businesses are facing unprecedented challenges trying to find qualified workers to fill jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports there are half as many available workers for every open job in the country. This highly competitive job market has created a shift in power from employers, who have long had the upper hand in recruiting new workers, to the job seekers, who can demand higher salaries, flexible work arrangements, and competitive benefits packages.
Overcoming labor shortages requires employers to not only be innovative and competitive, but to invest in the company’s compensation package, which goes a long way towards attracting and retaining talent. Offering a solid benefits package that is affordable and reliable reflects a company’s commitment to their employee’s health and well-being.
New research from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports the labor shortage has raised employees’ expectations of higher pay and richer benefits. Health care coverage, including dental and vision insurance, continue to be the number one most valued workplace benefit.
The importance of dental coverage
In addition to health care coverage, employees need and expect an affordable dental insurance plan for themselves and their family members. Dentistry is essential because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health. Good dental health keeps workers productive and can even lower medical care costs. Dental plans should be designed to work with health plans to help people achieve better overall health.
“Early diagnosis, intervention and preventive treatments can stop the progression of oral diseases,” said Mark Jansen, M.D., chief medical officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “Frequent dental care is not just for preserving the structure and function of your teeth but is critical for preventing and eliminating infection. Maintaining good oral health is important to sustain overall good health.”
Sadly, most people who do not have dental coverage rarely seek and receive dental care.
Vision care pays off
The American Optometric Association estimates that adding a vision plan to health care benefit packages can save employers $7 for every $1 spent. The association says 16 million Americans struggle with undiagnosed or untreated vision impairments, eye diseases, vision loss and eye disorders, creating an estimated $139 billion economic burden.
“Routine vision care is an important part of good health, and can support early detection of glaucoma, cataracts and vision issues related to diabetes,” said Dr. Jansen. “An eye exam can enable an eye doctor to detect more than just poor vision. Serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, tumors, cancer and autoimmune diseases can be discovered through a routine eye exam.”
The Vision Council of America reports 90% of employees who use a computer for three or more hours a day experience vision problem, which can lead to a host of other problems such as headaches, fatigue, discomfort and lower productivity. When companies offer the right vision plan and proper employee education, they can realize a return-on-investment in the way of higher employee productivity, lower medical expenses, and greater employee satisfaction.
Employees demand and deserve generous benefits
Glassdoor’s Employment Confident Survey found that 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise, and 60% report that benefits and perks are a major factor in considering whether to accept a job offer. In todays’ competitive hiring market, having a healthy benefits package is mandatory, not just to attract new employees, but to meet the satisfaction demands of the current workforce.
“Offering employees a good benefits package is the responsible thing to do, and is certainly the right thing to do,” said Dana Lazzari, manager of Arkansas Blue Cross’ business alliances and ancillary division. “Employers should be committed to helping keep their employees and their families healthy, and at an affordable cost.”