Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Category: Employee support (Page 1 of 3)

Get tips and news to support your employees.

When life happens, there’s Smile On

As a benefits administrator, you know that people’s life circumstances can change at the drop of a hat. Most people get their insurance coverage through work, but what happens when they retire, lose their job or take a break from work? That’s when the Smile On program is there for them.

Smile On is a program designed to help employees with group benefits transition to individual plans. With this program, your employees don’t have to worry about losing dental insurance when their employer-offered coverage ends.

Smile On helps your employees stay covered

Retiring, being in between jobs, or being a contractor or part-timer shouldn’t mean going without dental coverage. That’s why Delta Dental offers the Smile On program.

Smile On offers an easy way to connect your employees with existing individual plans. Smile On plans are new coverage and not a continuation of plans your employees may currently have, but they still provide the essential coverage that helps your employees stay healthy and save money on dental costs. They’ll enjoy the peace of mind knowing that what’s important is covered.

Best of all, getting a plan is something that employees can handle all on their own. They just need to visit the Smile On page, get a quote and choose from the plans available in their ZIP code.

Smile On is easy to promote

You won’t be going it alone when you present Smile On to your employees. There’s a flyer you can use help them understand all that the program offers.

Remember, when your employees need coverage the most, Smile On helps you meet their needs.

How to communicate dental benefits virtually

Communicating with employees in a period of social distancing requires new approaches, and you can manage open enrollment with a solid plan. Since in-person meetings may not be feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic, take advantage of technology to make virtual presentations that are timely and effective.

You can start by planning a virtual benefits fair. This may include medical and dental plan options or you can expand it to a general wellness event. Keeping in mind the value of an in-person session, give your employees handouts or videos that they can view online. The fair can provide information on dental plan coverage and premiums, along with instructions for enrollment for new employees and options for making changes for current enrollees.

Scheduling a video conference meeting with employees is an effective way to connect in real time to explain plan options, answer questions and provide resources. Recording the live session gives employees the opportunity to view information at their convenience.

You can also make recorded sessions or videos available via mobile app so employees can access them on their smartphones.

Throughout open enrollment, you can stay in touch through a blog, FAQ page and opportunities for employees to have online chats with benefits administrators. Rest assured, your benefits plan communications can be effectively delivered virtually, with the added value of safety.

Grin! offers employees a free and fun wellness resource

Encourage your employees to brighten their smiles — and their days — with Delta Dental’s fun, informative and free e-magazine: Grin!

Available in English and Spanish, this quarterly publication is full of useful and entertaining content, such as:

  • The latest news on dental care — including what to do during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Advice from experts
  • First looks at innovative technology
  • Fun features
  • Healthy recipes, and more

And because your employees’ dental health is strongly tied to their overall health, Grin! also explores how many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and depression, are related to dental care. In fact, you can learn how allergies and oral health are related in the recent summer issue.

See for yourself: Check out the latest edition of Grin! And it’s easy to subscribe. With just one click, you and your employees can receive all that Grin! has to offer, four times per year.

Healthy, happy employees are the key to a productive workplace, and Grin! can help. Why not get started today?

And if you do choose to subscribe to Grin!, be sure to download this free poster that you can use to promote this great resource to your employees.

6 strategies to ease employee stress and create a happier workplace

4-minute read

Stress is costly. From teeth grinding to high blood pressure and anxiety, our bodies often pay the price. Just reading this list of 50 common physical and mental symptoms of stress is stress-inducing itself! But the effects of stress go beyond health — it can even take a toll on your business. In fact, a recent study found that businesses lose billions in productivity due to employee stress.

Take a deep breath. We’re here to help you with proven strategies to help reduce stress in your workplace (and even have some fun)!

Harness the power of good (deeds).

Volunteering is one of the best ways to combat stress. Research shows that volunteering has many health benefits, including stress reduction.

Volunteering can also give your employees a sense of purpose and appreciation, strengthen relationships and even encourage exercise — all great ways to lower stress. One study even found that people who volunteered for at least 200 hours in a 12-month span were less likely to develop high blood pressure (a common symptom of stress) than non-volunteers.

If your company offers a volunteer time off (VTO) benefit, you can organize events and activities that encourage employees to attend together. If VTO isn’t an option, you can share local volunteer events with employees that happen outside of work hours. Bonus points for including volunteer events with dogs (keep reading to see why)!

Fight stress with fitness.

Exercise is a stress triple threat. Why?

  • Increased happiness: Exercise boosts the body’s natural production of endorphins. This perky chemical has been proven to boost happiness.
  • Positive outlook: Concentrating on your body’s movements — like achieving that perfect push-up form — helps shift focus from life’s stressors to a calm, more positive energy.
  • Improved sleep: Various studies suggest that exercise improves sleep. Poor sleep can increase cortisol levels, which is often referred to as the stress hormone

To get employees moving, try organizing an intramural-style team sport or sponsoring a race for your company. If you’re not sure what types of activities your employees might enjoy, send out a survey to find out.

Laugh it off! (And no, we don’t mean ignore it.)

Stress is no laughing matter. Or, is it? Are you familiar with the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine?” When it comes to fighting stress, laughter may be an effective remedy. Studies show that laughter can relieve some of the physical symptoms of stress by stimulating circulation and muscle relaxation. Over time, “positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Don’t worry — there’s no need to host a daily comedy hour at the office. But taking a moment to share a funny story or keeping a joke book on hand may be a good idea. To really get the workplace rolling, why not try a group outing to a laughing yoga class? In addition to getting the giggles, you get a wonderful opportunity to encourage employee bonding and create endorphins.

Create a serene space.

Is there a big deadline coming up? Holding a wellness fair soon? Consider contacting a local pet therapy organization that can bring in dogs to interact with employees. Multiple studies suggest that dogs can lower our stress levels — oftentimes even more than a supportive friend according to new research. Plus, dogs can help fulfill our longing for human touch, which can boost dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin (aka our feel good hormones).

Let’s start with color. For centuries, people across the globe have believed that certain colors can affect mood. In 2003, a Minnesota State University study actually found that subjects placed in a red room gave higher stress ratings than subjects placed in green and white rooms. Why not pick up a paint brush or add some calming accents of green and white to your office space?

Beyond color, research continues to show that exposure to nature can alter mood. A 2018 study even suggests that just visiting a natural environment can reduce stress levels. If your office is in a natural setting, encourage employees to get out and enjoy it during breaks. If a concrete jungle is your landscape, consider organizing nature walks for employees at a nearby park. Adding plants and nature-inspired artwork may also help!  

Send in the dogs.

Not only can these furry visitors perk up your workplace, but they can also help employees feel more comfortable connecting with each other. Win-win!

Check stress levels and offer support.

With the rise of telecommuting, face-to-face interaction with employees might not be as regular as it was in the past. However, that doesn’t mean we should be less connected! Sometimes just acknowledging employee stress can provide relief. Remind managers to check in on employees’ stress levels regularly, not just when there’s a big project on the line.

In addition to using the stress-busting strategies in this article, encourage managers to stay current on the types of services your company offers to help cope with stress. And, if it seems like employees are feeling more than situational stress, it may be time for them to seek professional help.


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3 resolutions to simplify your benefits

2-minute read

Waking up earlier, working out regularly, cutting out sugar … sometimes starting our New Year’s resolutions can be a bit, well, painful. Here’s some good news — we’ve got resolutions to make managing your Delta Dental benefits even easier. Check out our top tips to ring in the new benefits year right.

1. Arm yourself and your team with the right tools. 

Need to make real-time updates to your plan? With Delta Dental’s Eligibility Management Application (EMA) and Online Billing Reconciliation (OBR) tools, you can do exactly that. 1

EMA gives you the power to add or remove enrollees from a plan, update personal information, modify effective dates and more! With OBR, you can make payments and track and reconcile invoices all in the same secure place.

New year tip: Send your account manager a list of everyone on your benefits team who needs administrator access to OBR and EMA this year, so the right people are set up to use the tools from the get-go.

2. Set the facts straight about ID cards.

Remind enrollees they do not need an ID card to receive dental care. They can simply give the dental office a bit of personal information and they’re all set.

New year tip: We get it — some of us still like physical proof of coverage. If that’s the case, your enrollees can present ID cards from a mobile device by logging in to Online Services or downloading the Delta Dental app (provided by the Delta Dental Plans Association). ID cards can also be printed via Online Services if enrollees prefer (or you can print them for enrollees in EMA).

3. Share (and reshare) your benefits basics.

While you may be an expert on the dental benefits your group offers, sometimes your enrollees need a reminder.

New year tip: Save yourself time answering common enrollee questions throughout the year by reviewing these topics with enrollees now.

  • Plan type: Be sure enrollees know whether they have a Delta Dental PPO™ or DeltaCare® USA (our copay option) plan. Encourage them to check out their plan Policy to learn how their plan type works.
  • Finding a network dentist: The quickest way to find a dentist is online, using the Find a Dentist tool. Enrollees can find a network provider by plan type, location and specialty. We’ve even added Yelp ratings to help guide enrollees.
  • Annual deductibles and maximums: If your enrollees have Delta Dental PPO, the plan likely includes annual deductibles and maximums. Point enrollees to their plan Policy for the specific details. (Frequently, deductibles are waived for diagnostic and preventive care!)  

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OBR and EMA may be unavailable for some groups, including small business plans, which are managed by a team of service experts at one of our third-party administrators (TPAs). Each TPA offers their own suite of online tools and services.

5 ways to transform your commute from pain to gain

4-minute read

Do you live in a metropolitan area in the United States? If you don’t walk or bike to work or exclusively work from home, we bet we can guess how you feel about your commute. Let’s take a look at average commute times by some major metropolitan areas:

  • New York City — 34.7 minutes
  • Washington, D.C. — 32.8 minutes
  • Chicago — 30.8 minutes
  • Oakland — 29.9 minutes
  • Atlanta — 29.2 minutes

Let’s simplify by supposing the average person’s commute time is 30 minutes. You’re looking at an hour-long commute if you go both ways without making any stops. No stopping for gas, no picking up the kids or grabbing the groceries you forgot over the weekend. That’s an hour that you’ve potentially wasted.

But it doesn’t have to be wasted time. In fact, you can even get a jump start on your workday with these tips for making your commute more productive — grouped by drivers and public transit commuters.

For drivers (listening activities only!)

Did you know talking on a hand-held cellphone is banned in 16 states, plus Washington, D.C.?  Hands-free driving is not only safe — in many states it’s also the law.

Here are some commute productivity tips for drivers:

  • Listen to a podcast. These days there’s a podcast for everything. If you’re looking for business insights or news to inspire your workday, check out this guide to the best business podcasts. For those wanting to boost their health or fitness, this comprehensive list has a podcast to help you reach just about any wellness goal. If you prefer using your commute to catch up on life outside of the office, here are some great suggestions to keep you updated on news and current events.
  • Listen to an audiobook. If you’re trying to escape reality on your daily commute, audiobooks are a great option (just don’t get so engrossed you forget you’re driving!). There are far too many to parse out a complete list of suggestions, but we’ll take a shot at naming a few standout titles from recent years. Some popular fiction titles include All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. In the comedy genre, try Calypso by David Sedaris for some serious laughs. For more suggestions, here are 101 more titles you can check out.

For public transit commuters (who have their hands free)

For commuters who are able to use their hand-held devices, there’s a little more room for productivity. Here are a few tips for those riding to work on public transit:

  • Set your priorities. Try a productivity app like Wunderlist, Evernote, MindMeister or Pocket. The functions vary by app, but in general they help you organize lists, tasks, ideas and resources. You can organize your thoughts, bookmark things to read later, or create a collaborative grocery list.
  • Get your mind right. It may seem counterintuitive, but more screen time may just help ease stress, anxiety and other mental health ailments. Headspace and Calm help ease stress and anxiety with guided meditation, breathing exercises and soothing sounds. Stigma is a journaling and mood tracking app that can help those who suffer from anxiety or mood disorders to identify trends, and even connect with peers through a messaging function. And for those who don’t wish to (or can’t) go to counseling or therapy, Talkspace offers an affordable, convenient solution.
  • Learn a new language. Want to add a skill to your résumé or CV? Duolingo and Rosetta Stone make it easy to learn a new language on the go, with guided lessons and assessment tools.

We hope these tips help make your commute a pleasure rather than a pain by increasing your productivity, delivering a laugh, helping you administer some self-care or just providing some entertainment. Have any suggestions, or want to share your progress? Send us a quick email at newsletters@delta.org.

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