Employees in a board meeting.

Medical Marijuana Added to Shoppers & Loblaws Benefits Plan

Canadian drug benefit plans continually need to evolve to meet the needs of employees.

In recent news, Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws Canada have now added medical marijuana into their employee benefits packages.

These drug benefits are capped at $1,500.00 but reflect the vision of employers who are willing to see past the political rhetoric and introduce new aspects to their employee benefits plan that are explicitly focussed on employee needs.

Focus of Medical Marijuana Use

Adaptation to drug therapy changes are pushing these companies into positions of forward-thinking benefits by:

1) Providing alternative relief for workers experiencing chemo-related queasiness and vomiting.

2) Helping employees deal with pain as a consequence of multiple sclerosis.

Earlier in 2017, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ruled that an employee benefits plan “Must cover a member’s medical marijuana prescription.” A pre-approval process is required and the ruling calls for special authorization, with marijuana prescriptions to be filled by Licensed Producers, the current method used by the Canadian Government.

You can read the full article can be read here: Benefits plan must cover medical pot, human rights commission rules.

These drug benefits will be available to approximately 45,000 Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws employees. Depending on the volume consumed daily by the patient, it’s unlikely that these benefits will completely cover costs, but it will certainly help.

Still Have Questions About Drug Benefit Plans?

Benefit Strategies Inc. is based in Edmonton, Alberta and has been serving business clients throughout Western Canada, the Yukon and the Northwest territories for over three decades.

For more information on how medical marijuana is affecting employee benefits plans in Canada, contact Benefit Strategies online, send us an email, or call us today at 1-780-437-5070

Workplace staff meeting on set of stairs.

Creating a Workplace Culture That Motivates Employees

Have you thought about creating a workplace culture that is positive and motivates your employees? Are you continually losing employees or having difficulty hiring new ones, or have you been experiencing productivity slumps? There’s plenty of support to show that a positive workplace culture can and will motivate employees.

Addressing Workplace Motivation and Culture

In an earlier Benefit Strategies article entitled The moment of truth: How to shift to a culture that motivates employees, Joyce M. Rosenberg of The Associated Press explored the culture (or lack thereof) inside three companies that admitted they were doing it all wrong.

Here are some of the areas that these three companies addressed and were able to improve upon:

  1. Evolution of inter-generational work style approaches.
  2. Development of clear internal communications.
  3. Reasonable work week expectations.
  4. Changes to owner and CEO management styles.
  5. Prioritization of employee needs and office culture.
  6. Creation of clear structure and hierarchy.
  7. Awarding employees with more trust responsibilities.

Discovery Through Surveys and Exit Interviews

Many of these shortcomings were only discovered after anonymous surveys or exit interviews were conducted with past employees. It was an eye-opening wake up call for each of the organizations presented in the article. A clear indication that cultural openness and transparency were lacking in their organizations.

The firms who chose to tackle these issues head on, maintained more staff, experienced improved productivity, and had less difficulty hiring new employees.

To learn more about how you can motivate employees by improving your workplace culture, contact Benefit Strategies online, send us an email, or call us today at 1-780-437-5070. Let us help you learn to motivate your employees by creating a great workplace culture.

Older man with laptop at a table.

When Employees Delay Retirement It Affects Benefits Plans

The changing demographics of the workforce have seen an increased number of employees delay retirement and work beyond the retirement age we had grown accustomed to.

Some seniors choose not to retire because they still find work interesting. Others cannot afford to retire and feel they must continue working. As an employer, both groups will force you to re-examine your employee benefits package to determine how this emerging workplace trend will affect your business.

Defined Contributions Delay Retirement

Defined contribution benefit plans, where a portion of the employee’s salary is used to pay for their benefits, has made it difficult for many to save for retirement however, employers can also suffer when employees delay retirement.

Employees in higher positions that wait longer to retire leave no room for mid-level employees who want to move up. Mid-level employees are squeezed out of their linear career trajectory.

Companies identifying this trend are feeling pressured to move towards developing more lateral career paths for all employees. Business owners must identify responsibility overlaps and allocate portions of high-level employee work to their mid-level employees.

Aging Employees In the Workplace Increase Health Claims

Managing aging employees in the workplace has also become more of a challenge for employers. With aging employees, health claims rise and increased pressure is applied to employee benefit packages. In addition, these higher costs of treatment are often passed on to the employer.

Be sure to check out our article on Employee Benefit Plans for Employees Over 65 Years.

Changing Employee Benefits for the Changing Workplace

Before you consider changing your employee benefits plan, speak with one of our Benefit Strategies brokers first. We can help you determine where your current benefits package might be insufficient to accommodate aging employees in the workforce.

We’ll guide you through the steps necessary to optimize your employee benefits package and help prepare your business for adjusting to the changing demographics of the workforce.

Call Benefit Strategies Inc. today at 1-780-437-5070 and ask for Daryl Smith.

As an experienced employee benefits broker, Daryl will explain in detail why employees delay retirement, and what your business needs to address in light of this emerging workplace trend. You can also reach Daryl by email.

Employees in a board meeting.

Salveo Study on Workplace Mental Health Strategies

At a mental health summit in Toronto, a Manulife consultant presented some surprising results about a study on improving workplace mental health, which was conducted by Salveo Integrative Health. To date, it remains one of the largest mental health studies conducted in Canada.

With the aim of improving workplace mental health, the study examined the three main problem areas of organizations including:

  1. Depression
  2. Burnout
  3. Psychological Distress

The workplace mental health study took two years to complete with 63 companies and more than 2,160 employees participating, and with comparisons being made between 65 different management practices. In the study, researchers used a questionnaire with nearly 300 questions specific to the three workplace problem areas noted above.

Some of the results on improving workplace mental health might not be what you’d expect.

Well-Matched Jobs and Skills

The Salveo study revealed that workplace variables could either contribute to or protect employees from psychological stress and burnout. Employees with jobs well-matched to their skills enjoyed the protective factor. Higher psychological burdens on employees less suited for the demands of their positions increased their chances of burnout and psychological distress.

Management Practices and Flexible Schedules

An investment in good management practices contributed significantly to the reduction of claims related to mental health. The best management practices with the most significant ability to reduce claims included proper workload and work hours, employee involvement in the creation of their position, flexible work schedules, and the ability to obtain promotions internally.

The study notes that in order to be effective, good management practices must be ongoing and cannot be just a one-time instance. Continual, integrated programs saw the best and longest lasting results. Persistent use of best management practices was also a contributing factor in the decrease in absenteeism.

Targeting Stressful Workplace Conditions

Maintaining employee health by targeting and improving stressful workplace conditions resulted in a better likelihood that companies would experience up to 3 times fewer mental health claims. As a result, costs for mental health claims depreciated proportionately. This appeared to only work with integrated programs.

The findings of this study by Salveo Integrative Health can benefit small, medium, and large organizations. By integrating the findings of this study along with best management practices into the workplace, companies are more likely to produce positive, long-term results and improve workplace mental health.

Contact Benefit Strategies Inc.

With more than three decades of service to Alberta and the western provinces, Benefit Strategies Inc. provides Canadian companies with practical advice and guidance on group and employee benefits plans.

For more information on the benefits of implementing good workplace mental health strategies, or to discuss the findings of this study by Salveo Integrative Health, please contact Benefit Strategies Inc. today at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.