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Reimagining employee benefits

Employers and employees alike are experiencing a significant shift in the workplace. Employees now expect more support and flexibility from employers in the aftermath of the pandemic - and as the economy recovers. An undersupply of workers is concerning Canadian businesses, with the potential to impede their growth and compromise their competitiveness.1

The tight labour market is due to several factors. Fewer applicants, underskilled people applying, and furloughed and laid-off employees finding work elsewhere all contribute to a shortage of people. The problem is further amplified by an aging population leaving the workforce.2 Called the "great resignation", the labour scarcity is expected to continue for years. The Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey found that one in five workers globally plans to quit their job in 2022.3

It's essential that companies struggling to recruit and retain talent get creative with their total compensation package – and this doesn't just mean salary, it means offering the personalized and flexible benefits that prospective employees want.

Taking a holistic view when it comes to employee benefits.

Due to the overabundance of job openings, employees have more options. They have more control and flexibility in looking for work that meets their expectations and aligns with their values, which have changed since the pandemic began. What candidates want is to work for an employer that prioritizes the health and wellness of their people. In fact, 77% of employees said they would leave their current organization for one that would offer them better support for their wellbeing (even with a lower salary).4

A survey conducted by The Conference Board of Canada and TELUS Health found a gap of up to 83% between the benefits Canadian employees have – and the benefits they want from – their employers.5 A gap of 83% is large, and significant enough to lead to employee disengagement and high staff turnover.

"The survey was designed to gain a deeper understanding of the current and evolving needs of Canada's workforce amidst a global pandemic when it comes to their health needs," said Lauren Florko, Senior Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada. "We found that 33% - 59% of respondents said that health and wellness support offered by their employers does not reflect their current needs."

Employee surveys across the country echo the same sentiment about the importance of benefits. According to a new survey by Robert Half Canada Inc, 49% of respondents say benefits are the second-most important factor when considering job offers.6

If employers are to set themselves apart, make their employees feel valued, and increase retention, they must take a holistic view when it comes to health benefits and the total compensation package.

Often, "compensation" is thought of as salary, but it is only one part of a total compensation package, which should also take the following into consideration:

  • Financial benefits such as pension plans, retirement savings plans, and profit sharing
  • Personalized health services that include basic dental, eye exams, glasses/contacts, and prescription drugs for all employees (including part-time employees) and their family members
  • Mental and emotional health resources, wellness groups, check-ins to monitor progress, and surveys to measure engagement - helping to stave off employee burnout and fatigue
  • The integration of digital health solutions such as virtual care, EAP's, and virtual pharmacy services that can provide on-demand, 24/7 access to health and wellness services, and financial and legal assistance programs -- allowing employees to easily and proactively fit primary care and mental health support into their day-to-day lives
  • Flexible work arrangements, including working from home, to help employees overcome concerns of long commutes and poor work/life balance. Flexwork and telework have increased in importance for employees, with 65% and 72% (respectively) of respondents rating them as essential7
  • Unique perks such as gym memberships, free daycare, training stipend, paid volunteer days, and tuition reimbursement

The return on investing in a happier, healthier workforce

Traditionally, when evaluating the return on investment, or ROI for a total compensation plan, employers will look at financial outcomes such as savings realized from fewer claims. There are, however, different ways to evaluate the impact of a total compensation plan beyond savings on claim costs.

Value on investment or VOI looks at how a program affects qualitative business attributes such as morale, recruitment, retention, satisfaction, presenteeism, and engagement.

A workforce that is valued and cared-for will be more engaged and more productive. Engaged employees take fewer sick days, and may remain with their company longer.8 Additionally, an organization that demonstrates genuine concern for the health and wellbeing of its people and their families will stand out in a competitive labour market, finding it easier to recruit and retain good talent.9 The result of investing in the health and wellbeing of your employees means a happier, healthier workforce overall - and that's where the real value lies.

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