There was a time, not too long ago, when employee benefits were almost always taken for granted.
It was not uncommon for a company to pay most of not all of the worker’s health insurance premiums, offer a dollar-for-dollar 401K program and even a profit-sharing program.
What was once an accepted practice is now a rarity. More and more, an employee’s compensation consisted almost exclusively to the numbers of the paycheck.
Even so, a generous benefit package remains a powerful inducement for prospective employees and one of the best ways a company can retain its employees.
On Thursday, the Columbus Light & Water Board of Directors, approved a plan to make a change in its employee health plan will reduce the cost of healthcare for its 86 eligible employees.
CL&W joined Lowndes County in entering a one-year contract with Baptist Medical Group for a primary care clinic for its employees. The clinic, which would treat those employees without requiring a copay, is designed to reduce insurance premium costs for the employers as well. The clinic will also offer prescriptions at wholesale prices, which could be a significant savings for employees as well.
Earlier this week, the city of Columbus delayed making a decision on joining the group after some city officials expressed concern over the relationship of the proposed clinic and Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle. Both the proposed clinic and the hospital are part of the Baptist Medical Group umbrella, but would operate independently, clinic proponents argue.
Whether or not the city joins CL&W and Lowndes County in this effort, we believe the effort to improve the quality and lower the cost of healthcare is an important tool for attracting and retaining employees.
While the city continues to find its police department understaffed and struggles to attract candidates for those opening, the benefits package can be a powerful tool for recruiting.
This is especially true when it comes to health insurance benefits, given the uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
When you ask most people if they are happy or unhappy with their jobs, you will often find that often the biggest factor isn’t simply the pay. Do they find their work fulfilling? Are they valued by their employers? Do they have positive relationships among their peers? Do they have a pleasant work environment?
All of these questions, and many more, factor into employee satisfaction.
In a competitive marketplace, the more things you an offer, the more likely you are to attract, then retain, great employees.
Ideas such as the healthcare clinic are evidence that there is a real effort to explore the possibilities.
We believe those efforts will be rewarded.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.