Employee benefits creep into the restaurant game.
With restaurants in the state struggling to find the right staff, the New Mexico Restaurant Association began offering a series of side benefits for restaurants to present to their employees as a way to compete in a labor market. difficult work.
This is not primary health care or dental benefits, but the offerings include on-demand telephone consultation for health and mental health needs, additional preventive cancer care and various discounts.
The association is joining forces with Teladoc Health, Aflac and LifeBalance to make these advantages available to restaurateurs.
“We saw that there was a huge need for restaurants to be competitive,” said Dionne Bower, director of membership for the association.
A member restaurant in northern New Mexico sent association CEO Carol Wight a photo of McDonald’s benefits attached to a window. They offered free work shoes, discounts at grocery and drug stores, up to $ 3,000 in tuition reimbursement and a variety of other discounts.
The National Restaurant Association offered the New Mexico association the Teladoc option, which, for $ 9 per employee per month, provides phone, video, or app access to physicians for elective medical consultations, health mental health, dermatology, medical advice and nutritional advice.
“Nonetheless, we wanted to take it one step further,” said Wight.
The New Mexico Restaurant Association added Aflac and LifeBalance. Aflac offers additional coverage against accidents, preventive care against cancer and serious illnesses. LifeBalance offers free discounts to association members for artistic and cultural events, as well as outlets such as exercise, personal growth, sports, games and amusement parks and tourist attractions and travel.
“It provides something more to allow restaurants to be competitive,” Bower said. “We focused on the secondary type benefits. “
Wight said the national association provides affiliate organizations with medical coverage through United Healthcare, but the New Mexico association has chosen not to offer it.
“When [UHC] came to New Mexico, we found that they are not very competitive, ”said Wight. “You can go to [health insurance] change and get better rates.
Such extras – atypical in many restaurants before the pandemic – are now becoming a recognized necessity.
Santa Fe Dining provides health, dental and vision services to all full-time employees of its portfolio restaurants across town.
“This provides a whole host of benefits for our team members,” said Rick Pedram, COO of the company, adding that these benefits will be primarily attractive to employees who work less than 30 hours per week and are not entitled to benefits.
Atrisco Cafe and Bar and Tomasita owner George Gundrey said the association’s alternatives may work better than traditional benefits.
“When you look at the benefit issue, you have to think outside the box a little bit,” Gundrey said. “I offer health insurance, but nobody takes it if they have to pay half of it. I think a lot of employees would like to receive cash rather than health insurance benefits. “
He said he was reviewing all three NMRA programs, but was drawn to the Teladoc offer.
“It’s a great way to do it,” Gundrey said. “I would be happy to pay for it if I am satisfied that it has been used. Maybe I’ll pay half of it.
It was not clear whether employers would pay for these NMRA benefits or pass the costs on to employees, Wight said.
“It’s traditional for things like Aflac for the employer to bear the costs,” Wight said. “We hope that employers will bear the costs of Teladoc.”