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Michael Perry, Senior Vice President, Group Solutions, Empire Life

Michael Perry

Senior Vice President, Group Solutions, Empire Life

Dara Brachman. Vice President, Group Distribution, Empire Life

Dara Brachman

Vice President, Group Distribution, Empire Life

A good benefits plan can help attract and retain employees in a competitive market. It can also help promote employee wellness and productivity. The Empire Life Insurance Company is a Canadian company that specializes in benefits for small- to medium-sized businesses.


The war for talent can be exceptionally competitive. So, how can your small-to-medium-sized business (SME) stand out from the rest? According to the 2020 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, “86% of [benefit] plan members agree that health benefits are an important factor when deciding on a job offer – up from 78% in 2014.”

SMEs face unique challenges

SMEs face challenges that larger companies don’t when it comes to offering employees an attractive benefits package. “As a medium-sized company ourselves, we understand the needs of our clients and their employees, and offer benefits based on flexibility, choice, and cost control,” says Michael Perry, Senior Vice-President of Group Solutions at Empire Life.

Many smaller organizations, for example, operate without a dedicated human resources team. Administering benefits plans can be time-consuming, particularly for staff who aren’t trained in the process. “We make every effort to strip out complexity and to provide expert guidance” notes Dara Brachman, Vice-President of Group Distribution. “For instance, disability claims are comparatively rare compared to other types of claims. An administrator may never have worked on one before. Our team provides personalized education about what they can expect with an absence, and helps them navigate that event.” Empire Life disability experts use a variety of tools, including pharmacogenomics, psychosocial data algorithms, and iCBT (internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to help employees return to health and resume their job.

Keeping costs in check

Another challenge SMEs face is keeping benefit costs manageable. A number of levers are available, starting with benefits designed with cost control in mind. Empire Life has created a number of simplified, cost-effective benefits. Examples include a low cost critical illness solution and Health Care Essentials, which insures employees against catastrophic events and can include a healthcare spending account, giving employees the added flexibility they desire while limiting costs to a predetermined amount.

Since drugs claims make up the bulk of SMEs benefit claim costs, programs that help manage costs are key. High cost specialty drugs are on the rise and can cost tens of thousands of dollars – even hundreds of thousands. Express Scripts Canada reports in its 2020 Prescription Drug Trend Report that specialty drugs represented 2% of claims and 33% of the private drug plan spend. Empire Life’s specialty drug program provides robust support for people prescribed these complex and costly drugs, and coordinates with provincial plans so that the province covers the cost wherever possible. Empire Life is also recognized as #1 for competitiveness of its pooling charges, in the 2020 Canadian Group Benefits study by global financial services consultant, NMG. Offering competitive drug-only pooling at $7,500, as well as other pooling options, SMEs can manage benefit plan costs according to their risk tolerance and budget.

Continuous innovation: delivering value-added digital services

Individuals and organizations continue to rapidly adapt to a new way of doing things that involves more technology, innovation and flexibility. SMEs want an edge when it comes to attracting and retaining good employees, and that can come down to having a benefit plan that evolves with the times and remains state-of-the-art. “The pandemic has accelerated demand for virtual health services across the board,” comments Brachman. At Empire Life, services like Mental Health Navigator, telemedicine, and Best Doctors are automatically included at no additional cost in all health benefit plans. “Helping employees protect their mental and physical health during COVID-19 and other periods of stress is important,” remarks Brachman.

®Empire Life and Empire Life logo are registered trademarks of The Empire Life Insurance Company (‘Empire Life’). Policies are issued by Empire Life.

The information in this document is for general information purposes only and is subject to change without prior notice. Empire Life assumes no responsibility for any reliance made on or any inaccuracy in the information contained in this document.

The Empire Life Insurance Company
259 King Street East, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3A8 Canada
1 877 548 1881
Empire.ca [email protected]

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