Businessman with his finger on the word BENEFITS

Oil Bust Increases Employee Benefits Cost to Employers

The oil bust effect on benefits plans is a real cause for concern for employers. The decline of oil prices over these past few years has not only negatively impacted the Alberta economy but it has also had a detrimental impact on employee benefits according to Benefits Canada. This decline has made it difficult for HR departments since they now have less competitive benefits programs to offer in attracting talent.

What Is Driving Up Costs?

Instead of reducing the cost of employee benefits to the employer, this economic downturn can have the opposite effect. If one spouse or the other is laid off, the benefits plan of the employed spouse then becomes the sole plan.

Employees also tend to increase their usage of a benefits plan if they’re concerned that they might be laid off. They tend to want to purchase that new set of glasses, or get that dental work done before they are forced to live without the benefits.The oil bust effect on benefits is immediate.

Even apprehension about the potential of a layoff can increase the number of visits to psychologists, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Companies may find themselves in a position of having to increase cost sharing by employees or reducing employee benefits coverage altogether.

Long Term Relief

Long-term relief is only likely to occur when oil prices rebound, and who knows how long that might take. Also, once spouses re-enter the workforce and begin using their own benefits programs again, per capita costs are likely to decrease.

While new benefits proposals from other carriers might offer some immediate relief, you must be aware that benefits rates could very well boomerang back once the economy starts to move again and your first renewal is due.

Do you still have questions about the oil bust effect on benefits? To help you navigate through Alberta’s interim economic crunch and explore better options for reducing employee benefits cost to you, the employer, please contact us online or call our Benefit Strategies advisors at 1-780-437-5070!

Group at a table discussing benefit plan design changes.

5 Reasons for Employee Benefit Plan Design Change

Could it be time to reassess your employee benefits plan design?

In a Benefits Canada article written by Brian Lindenberg, we are presented with five compelling reasons for improving and/or designing employee benefits programs in your workplace.

  1. Your employee benefit plan risks are changing or have changed.

The whole purpose of custom employee benefits plan design for your workplace is to manage or fund the risks of organizational and individual health, as well as employment risks, repititional risks, and compliance risks. Lindenburg gives the example of paying for higher-priced prescription drugs. Your employee benefits plan must be responsive as benefits risks increase or change, and become more costly.

  1. Your employees are becoming more transient.

According to a 2015 Mercer Insider Employees’ Minds survey, “35% of all employees are seriously considering leaving their jobs, despite being reasonably happy” with both their current company and their career opportunities. Employment is now measured in months or a few years rather than decades like generations past. In the next ten to twenty years, it is expected that a significant number of employees will shift to become contractors. As more and more contingent workers become the norm, the stability and security of pay and traditional employee benefits may no longer be enough to maintain your talented workforce.

  1. Your employees will need proactive health management and advanced medicine.

Recent years have seen a major shift towards proactive health management rather than traditional health benefits that only respond when someone is sick. Changing technology and advances in medicine are also bringing in new medical treatments including genetic testing and digital health technology. Does your employee benefits plan design give your employees the freedom and ability to take advantage of new healthcare technologies?

  1. Your workforce is becoming more diverse.

Age and culture are major value drivers for various aspects of employee benefits in Canada, such as disability and life insurance. Flex benefit plans try to address the fact that certain employee benefits are more important to different people but often fail to address every individual’s needs.

  1. Your employees expect higher levels of customized benefits.

Today’s economy is driven by high customization and individualization. People can choose exactly what they want and when they want it. On the other hand, traditional employee benefits plans (like the one you may have implemented in your workplace) are based on the collective needs of the workforce rather than the individual. Customized benefits may be worth looking into.


Overall, the argument is that Canadian’s expectations towards their employee benefits plan design are becoming more customized and that benefit plans will need to embrace recent advances in healthcare, medications and technology. The Canadian workforce is also becoming more diverse and more transient in jobs and the people that do those jobs. All of these factors could mean that how you think your employees value their employee benefits plan today, or in the future, may not actually be accurate. You can read Benefits Canada’s full article here.

Is your current employee benefits plan design meeting the needs and expectations of your employees or the workforce?

Call Alberta’s trusted employee benefits company, Benefits Strategies Inc., at 1-780-437-5070 to speak with one of our employee benefits advisors about custom designing an employee benefits program for your company and your valuable employees.

Young professional millennials smiling.

Top 10 Employee Benefits in Canada

The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) polled nearly 4,000 payroll practitioners to determine the country’s top employee benefits in Canada. Do you offer any of these most popular employee benefits in your workplace?

  1. Health and Dental Insurance
  2. Group Life Insurance
  3. Training Expenses
  4. Vehicle Allowances
  5. Gifts and Awards
  6. Cellular Phone Service
  7. Counselling Services
  8. Disability-related Employment Benefits
  9. Income Maintenance Plans and other Insurance Plans
  10. RRSP Contributions

Benefits Canada reports that each year over $901 billion in wages and taxable benefits are administered by Canada’s 1.5 million employers. If you provide employee benefits in Canada or are considering adding a competitive benefits plan to your workplace, you will need to review each type of employee benefit for tax implications when reporting employee income. Read more here.

Do you know how to properly administer both taxable and non-taxable employee benefits in your workplace? Call one of Alberta’s most trusted employee benefits companies, Benefits Strategies Inc., at 1-780-437-5070 to speak with one of our benefit advisors.

Couple planning employee benefits with charts, tablet and calculator.

Budget Employee Benefits for Small Business

budget-employee-benefits-small-businessFor many small businesses, budgeting for employee benefits may seem like building your own Fabergé egg, representing money and resources that perhaps you feel could be better spent elsewhere.

Instead of viewing it as an expense, if you consider employee benefits for staff retention and employee satisfaction then it can really be viewed as employer benefits; the advantages to your own business can be significant.

Many successful small businesses utilize employee benefits to attract and retain employees, avoiding the pitfalls and significant costs of employee turnover. Most employers experience employee turnover whenever the mental and physical health of their employees begin to decline and there is no support available.

Cost of Employee Turnover

The Sasha Corporation, an HR consulting firm founded in 1984, averaged results of 15 studies and determined that the average cost to turn over an employee making just $8 an hour was $9,444.47 per turnover!

Taking away averages, consider that each position in a company, especially for high-tech companies or regulated positions such as health care, can skyrocket to over $100,000 of specialized training per turnover.1

Budgeting for employee benefits to retain employees can be of significant value to your business.

Employees are less stressed knowing their company is there to take care of them during times of illness, and employees are more likely to show loyalty to your business, thinking of it as their career and not just “a job.”

Employee Benefits Options

If your small business is on a budget, our employee benefits specialist at Benefit Strategies can help you find the right balance. It is possible to offer affordable employee benefits, to help you provide benefits solutions to your employees, while still considering your bottom line.

For instance, a common solution for small businesses on a budget is to cover 50% of the cost for employee benefits, which incidentally, is also tax deductible for your business. Covering half the costs is a great way to let your employees know you want to invest in their well-being, and also has an added benefit of safety; employees are less likely to abuse their plan when they are paying for part of it.

Another option is a health spending account, which is a self-insured private health plan that is available in Canada. These plans allow employees (and employers) to pay into them over time, and be available to employees when they need it for whatever they require, such as glasses, massages, and eye surgery.

Flexible employee benefits plans (aka Flex Benefits) offer customizable packages that can be tailored to the individual needs of an employee. These flex benefits plans are great for employees who have chronic conditions or long-term rehabilitations, or for those who see their own value in benefits such as chiropractic services, massage therapy, or retirement options.

Flex benefits are becoming increasingly popular with small businesses as employees are actively seeking out companies that offer them. For some employees, they are the best employee benefits option as they are tailored to their very specific needs.


Whatever option you choose for budgeting for employee benefits with your small business, it is highly recommended that you educate your employees about their employee benefits plan and what it offers them and their family.

Hosting an employee meeting to go over their benefits plan is a great opportunity to find out if employees are happy with their plan. Employees who understand the employee benefits you are offering to them will go a long way in their belief that your company is taking care of them and is there to support them.

Budgeting for employee benefits offers a significant overall benefit to your business, no matter how simple or elaborate your benefits package may be. Reducing employee turnover and, therefore, reducing costs of training new hires, as well as providing a piece of mind to your employees, will all help to reduce overall stress while increasing employee satisfaction and productivity.

Take care of your employees and they will take care of you!


Have more Questions about budgeting for employee benefits and services?
Call: Daryl or Tammy: 1-780-437-5070
Tweet: @BenefitStratInc

OSP Fashion Show Poster from Feb 4, 2016

Benefit Strategies Sponsors The OSP Workin’ It Fashion Show

Gold Sponsor – Benefit Strategies sponsors the first annual OSP Workin’ It Fashion Show!
Please invite some friends and join us at OSP’s 1st Annual “Workin’ It” Fashion Show. The show will feature women’s and men’s Spring Fashion. Fun fact: 3 OSP clients will be among the models!
Enjoy some delicious food and wine, meet some great people, and get a fun photo in the Photo Booth.

Where: Lexus of Edmonton, 11204 – 170 Street NW, Edmonton.
When: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. – Reception (Wine, Appetizers, Photo Booth).
7:00 p.m. – Fashion Show.
8:00 p.m. – Door Prizes.

Dress Code: Semi-Formal
You will receive a $40.00 charitable donation tax receipt for your ticket purchase.
Tickets: $75.00 each.
10 for $650.00. $100.00 each after January 31.
Each ticket comes with 2 glasses of complimentary wine ($3 cash per glass thereafter).
Benefit Strategies sponsors this fundraiser with all proceeds supporting client services at On-Site Placement.

RSVP on Eventbrite.


Business owners helping business owners -Capital Ideas

Capital Ideas: Balancing Work, Life and Health

On the subject of balancing work life and health, Benefit Strategies Inc. President Daryl Smith and Capital Ideas asked the Edmonton community of entrepreneurs, “What does employee health and wellness mean at your business?”

Daryl Smith started the conversation off with his take on meeting employee needs:

“Balancing work, life and health for employees is paramount. At Benefit Strategies Inc. we include ergonomics around the office, customizable benefit packages, and healthcare spending accounts to enhance the health and wellness of our workforce. To achieve balance, and boost productivity, employees may take shortened work weeks, work from home, and enjoy flex time. It is important to be mindful of what your employees need: allowing time off for a grandchild’s birthday party, or to escort an aging parent to an appointment demonstrates understanding and support for wellbeing, both inside and outside the office.”

Here’s how other Edmonton entrepreneurs feel about employee health.

Do you want to change the way your workplace views health and wellness? Is it time to introduce a new employee benefits plan that will help boost employee satisfaction and productivity?

Contact our Edmonton employee benefits broker at 1-780-437-5070 or arrange a free Consultation online.

Daryl Smith's Community Question Photo

Capital Ideas, Community Question: What Does Employee Health and Wellness Mean at Your Business?

capital ideas


Benefit Strategies President, Daryl Smith, asked The Edmonton Journal’s Capital Ideas Community Question: What does employee health and wellness mean at your business?

There are many pressures in the modern workplace that create challenges for owners and any HR staff. This includes multiple generations of employees with different approaches to the workday, constant connection causing burnout, and people taking care of children or an elderly parent. Benefit Strategies Inc. is curious to hear about the work-life balance and benefits offered at your workplace.