Comet Group Plc, one of the UK’s largest electrical retailers with 253 sites nationwide, was looking to implement a health cash plan for 7,500 non-management employees, allowing all staff access to healthcare provision.
Comet wanted a healthcare cash plan to provide:
- A high quality, high value core benefit ‘paid for’ by Comet for 7,500 junior employees
- Options for staff to contribute to and extend cover at their own expense
- A benefit that worked with Comet’s own Health & Safety team to provide fast treatment and aid return to work.
It was important to Comet that the correct product was chosen and, as with many key decisions, the budget was also an influential factor.
Comet chose three health cash plan providers to submit a proposal for comparison in order to ensure that they selected the right health cash plan for them.
Health Shield used its own real-time Tailored Scheme software, which is fully flexible to enable companies to explore many different options through adding/removing benefits and increasing/decreasing cover levels. By using this software, Health Shield was able to provide Comet with its own fully tailored health cash plan.
During negotiations, Comet and Health Shield built up a strong relationship. As a result, Comet firmly believed that Health Shield provided a stronger offering in comparison to the other two health cash plan providers.
As with all Tailored schemes, Health Shield was able to brand the plan specifically for Comet. The scheme was named the ‘Comet Health Plan’ and the Comet logo was incorporated into the membership plan. Comet felt that branding the scheme was a crucial element to the launch and success of the scheme.
By providing a wholly inclusive benefit to all employees, Comet was confident that this would aid retention and recruitment, as well as being a well appreciated employee benefit.
Phillip Wood, executive director of sales and marketing at Health Shield, said: “Our tailored scheme enabled modification of the plan to specifically match the needs of Comet and its employees. This scheme was launched across an extensive workforce of 7,500 employees. As part of the comprehensive programme, our team of Development Officers have also visited many Comet sites to carry out on-site presentations, answer questions and to explain the scheme in more detail.”
Health Shield is one of few providers that offer its members 100 per cent cash back across all benefits. It helps to cover everyday healthcare treatments costs, such as dental, optical, physiotherapy and complementary therapies.
Levelling up the benefits – alongside re-structuring the retailer’s Occupational Health and other Private Medical provision – has enabled Comet to free up budget to expand its health and wellbeing provision to employees previously uninsured.
Within six months of launch, nine per cent of employee members had made a claim – this is expected to rise as the plan matures but remains in line with forecasts by Health Shield.
In addition, 10 per cent of non-management employees opted to voluntarily increase their cover and this continues to rise in line with the retailer’s on-going communication strategy. This is a major demonstration that employees are engaged with the new plan – Comet expects this percentage to rise over the next 12 months.
Its absence rate is also tracking at 2.6 per cent, which is considered low for the retail industry. A year ago this was at 3.1 per cent. Labour turnover is currently at 25.3 per cent versus 35.2 per cent 12 months ago.
On top of that, the score for the question on Comet’s yearly engagement survey relating to satisfaction with benefits has improved by nine per cent compared to the previous year following introduction of the scheme. Many individuals also added positive statements in the free text box, particularly citing the introduction of the ‘Health Plan’.
Claire Williams at Comet, commented: “Comet is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our employees and so we are very pleased to have been able to work with Health Shield to provide all non-management staff with a cash plan. Health Shield has not only offered us great value for money, but also enabled us to tailor the scheme to suit all our requirements.
“Our aim was to provide a consistent health and wellbeing strategy across our entire UK workforce. Transformed, our Health Plan has become a tangible and relevant benefit for all staff that enables them to proactively manage their own, and their families, wellbeing. Within retail and during a global recession this is a particularly astonishing achievement, but it is proof that positive change for staff can happen during harsh economic times.”