There are many demands on a business to provide employee benefits, and some offer more value to a company and its workforce than others. Group risk protection products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) offer some of the best value benefits available. However, to ensure that HR departments get that value, they need to ensure they select and utilise policies wisely.

Here, Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, offers advice for those considering how these benefits can add value to their company:

1) Research the market but look at terms and added-value services as well as price – group risk products often come with all sorts of extra support including an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), fast access to counselling, a second medical opinion service, vocational rehabilitation and health & wellbeing services.

2) Consider a workforce’s profile by all means but try to be inclusive – remember everyone needs a way to protect their financial position and their dependants’ future, not just senior staff. However, as a recruitment and retention tool, specific products may be more or less beneficial, dependent on a company’s demographics.

3) Really understand the nitty-gritty of the product – ensure a good understanding in exactly what is being bought and how to use it on a practical level.

4) Before purchasing, allocate staff resources to ensure that an individual or a team has responsibility for managing the group risk programme and for embedding the benefit and any added-value services into working culture and procedures.

5) Review current assets (such as a stand-alone EAP or HR/legal advice) and determine whether there is any duplication with a potential group risk purchase which could release budget for something else.

6) Take the time to develop a tri-partite relationship with the adviser and provider – relationships matter in this market and providers do some extraordinary things for employers who engage with them.

7) Discuss the potential purchase with the internal communications team to determine what communications channels can be used on a regular basis to ensure a workforce knows what they have and how to access all the extra support, thereby reinforcing the company’s position as a caring employer. Some providers and advisers also offer additional support in this area.

8) Don’t purchase in isolation as an HR team – seek buy-in from a broader group of potential ‘group risk ambassadors’ who will help spread the word and the uptake at a grass roots level. It’s important for line managers to be consulted as they are at the coalface and need to understand how these products and extra services can help them manage difficult situations better, such as mental health issues and absence.

9) The assistance that group risk policies can provide are wide and varied, from support with mental health issues right through to absence management; consider the main needs of the business to help prioritise what’s needed.

10) Use the expertise of advisers to develop and source a group risk programme that suits the business and budget.

Katharine Moxham commented: “Group risk should not be a get-and-forget product if an organisation wants to drive maximum value from it. Price isn’t the only thing to consider. Just as much consideration needs to be given to what else comes along with a group risk purchase and then to ensuring a commitment is made to communicate the availability and benefits to a workforce.”