Health Insurance check boxes.

How Are Today’s Health Benefits Plans Changing?

The changing labour force is changing benefits plans. The evolving demographics of the workforce demands a re-examination of current employee health benefits plans offered by employers in Canada. In short, as the labour force changes, health benefit plans will also need to change.

How Has The Labour Force Been Changing?

According to Statistics Canada, as of 2019:

  1. 29% of today’s workforce are baby boomers (up from 24% in 2015)
  2. 38% of the workforce are Generation X (down from 30% in 2015)
  3. 37% of the workforce are Millennials (down from 46% in 2015)

How Has Benefits Been Changing?

Millennials in the workforce are the sector that should be growing most rapidly. This group places less value on drug benefits and maximizes other plan areas such as paramedical benefits. In fact, paramedical services have become a rapidly rising aspect of today’s benefits plans.

In a survey conducted back in 2015 by Sanofi, active plan members submitted the following claims annually on average:

  • 5 drug benefits claims
  • 3 paramedical benefits claims
  • 7 dental benefits claims
  • 7 vision benefits claims

Of all paramedical benefits claims, 57% were for registered massage therapy and 68% of claimants fell between the ages of 18-34. Registered massage therapy, it could be suggested, is being perceived as a lifestyle benefit.

How Are Benefits Plan Carriers Trying to Adapt?

With a constant shift in the labour force, many benefits plan sponsors and carriers have been testing longer-term eligibility periods for things like paramedical benefits. The goal is to minimize claims that are for recreational use while still rendering appropriate services to those who most need these types of benefits for therapeutic or chronic care.

Some carriers have also bundling paramedical services into a lump-sum allotment, proposing per certificate coverage instead of per insured coverage. Hybrid plan models are also being introduced. According to Benefits Canada, it costs employers as much as 35% of an employee’s Salary annually, in additional compensation.

In 2016, only 23% of employee health benefits plans in Canada had a flexible structure. As many as 64% of those surveyed expressed the desire to have more control over health benefit plans.

For instance, with a Health Care Spending Account, employers can offer their employees more control over their benefits, and employers can save because they will only pay for what has been used.

To enquire about Health Care Spending Accounts or to learn more about how the labour force is changing benefits plans, call Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta at 780-437-5070 or send us an email.

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Surveys on the Extent of Employee Anxiety During Coronavirus

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Recent surveys confirm employee anxiety during coronavirus is still rising. With the loss of Canadian income and employment both anxiety and alcohol consumption are on the rise.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is a major contributing factor for anxiety and overconsumption in the workforce. In these times of uncertainty, it is paramount that employers do what they can to protect the health and wellbeing of not only their own families but also employees and their families.

Read more

What Does Each Generation Value for Employee Benefits?

In this blog post our experts at Benefit Strategies Inc. will take a look at employee benefits by generation, where we can see there are some marked differences.

We live in a unique time where the North American workforce is comprised of four generations of workers that represent a diverse age group. It’s no wonder that the needs and wants of each age group will also define the employee benefits by generation.

What are the Generations?

The generation born between 1927 and 1945 is known as the Mature/Silent generation. Many have since passed on and most of those that still remain have retired and no longer contribute to the workforce.

The four generations that currently make up our North American workforce include:

  1. Baby Boomers – born 1946 to 1964 (76 million US births)
  2. Generation Xers – born 1965 to 1980 (82 million US births)
  3. Millennials or Generation Y – born 1981 to 2000 (73 million US births)
  4. Generation Z – born 2001 to present (74 million US births)

Even though most baby boomers are approaching retirement age, many are still in the workforce primarily due to today’s high cost of living. However, you can define employee benefits by generation based on the different challenges and different needs and wants for each age group.

Types of Employee Benefits by Generation

Because we still have such a diverse range of ages in the workforce, employers must look at their different needs and offer the types of benefits for employees that meet all age groups. Today’s employers are recognizing the need for employee benefits by generation, so most benefit packages tend to be customized.

Many of today’s older generations, like Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, are caring for their elders as well as their children. They tend to lean towards security and health and wellness benefits, which may include, among others:

  • Health Insurance Benefits
  • Life Insurance Benefits
  • Retirement Benefits/Accounts
  • Estate Planning Advice
  • Long Term Care
  • Vison Coverage
  • Critical Illness Insurance
  • Group Life Insurance

Millennial (Generation Y) employees tend to request specific employee benefits such as:

  • Dental Coverage
  • Financial Wellness Packages
  • Wellness Programs
  • Healthcare Spending Accounts
  • Reimbursement Accounts
  • Long (and Short) Term Disability Benefits
  • Travel/Commuting Assistance
  • Relocation Assistance

The younger Generation Z (and some Generation Y) employees tend to request more lifestyle employee benefits. Many want to work remotely and may request benefits such as:

  • Flexible Work Hours
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Paid Vacation Time
  • Gym Memberships/Discounts
  • Telecommuting Options
  • Sick Days, Vacation Days, and other Paid Time Off

Summary

Every company wants their employees to be more productive and more successful. The priorities for employees, on the other hand, are quite different. Regardless of age, employees are mostly concerned about personal and financial self-improvement.

By understanding your employees’ priorities and addressing employee benefits by generation and their specific needs, you can ensure your company’s continued success.

About Benefits Strategies Inc.

Benefit Strategies Inc. specializes in building custom employee benefits packages as well as executive benefits programs. We are located in Edmonton Alberta and serve clients throughout the Western Provinces as well as the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

If your business has a staff of 10 or more employees, we can help you design and implement an affordable and competitive employee benefits package. Please call our us at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Visit this article to learn more about Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z.

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Tips for Designing an Employee Benefits Package

In this Benefit Strategies blog post we’ll offer some guidelines on how to design an employee benefits program that attracts great employees and won’t break the bank.

As a business owner, you often have to put so much on the line when it comes to attracting, hiring, and retaining talented employees. And, when it comes to compensation and perks, today’s employees expect a lot. That said, your employee benefits package doesn’t necessarily have to be your biggest business expense.

In this article, we will show you how to take a more strategic approach to designing an employee benefits package including:

  • Having clearly defined goals that are specific, relevant, attainable, and measurable
  • Remaining competitive as well as financially viable
  • Differentiating between required and optional benefits
  • Communicating additional perks and advantages to employees (and potential employees)

Have Clearly Defined Goals

You must know what your goals are and what will fit within your budget when designing an employee benefits package. Do you have a clear “why” in wanting to offer employee benefits? Are you trying to attract highly qualified talent? Do you know what benefits your competitors are offering and why potential employees may choose them over your company? The more focused and realistic you can be the better.

Be Competitive but Also Financially Viable

Do you know how much you can spend? Are you clear on how to design an employee benefits program that is both affordable and competitive? You can only pay what you can afford so to remain competitive you may have to find other perks that you can offer that your competitors can’t. For more on how to budget appropriately, check out this Canadian Business article entitled, “How Much Should Your Company Spend on Employee Benefits

Understand Required Vs Optional Employee Benefits

Some employee benefits (worker’s compensation for instance) may be required by federal and/or provincial law. It’s best if you also include the cost of these “required” benefits in your overall budget. Optional employee benefits like health insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance may be chosen based on cost and the needs of the talent you are trying to attract and retain. Your employee benefits broker can help you understand and choose which optional benefits are best for your circumstances.

Communicate Additional Perks

Health, life, and disability insurance are the common types of optional employee benefits. However, many smaller businesses may be able to offer additional perks that their larger competitors may have overlooked or simply don’t offer. These might be the kinds of benefits the employees need that makes them feel your company may be a better place to work at.

Maybe you can offer a flexible work schedule or allow your employees to telecommute. Perhaps you can contribute to a health spending account on the employee’s behalf or offer paid time off for things like volunteer work. Make sure these potential perks are communicated clearly to existing employees and especially to potential employees during the interview process.

Use Annual Statements to Summarize the Value of Your Benefits

As humans, we tend to believe what we see in writing. It’s a good policy to provide your employees with an annual statement that outlines not only their wages, but also the dollar value of all the benefits they are receiving. Let your employees see in writing that the value of their compensation is a lot higher than just their wages.

Learn More on How to Design an Employee Benefits Program

If you already have an employee benefits program but feel you need to explore other options, or if you need help designing a plan that better fits your budget and employee’s needs, give us a call.

Benefit Strategies Inc. is located in Edmonton Alberta and has be serving businesses throughout the Western Provinces, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories for more than four decades.

If your business employs 10 or more employees and you want to learn more about how to design an employee benefits program that is affordable and competitive, please call our us at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

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2019 Federal Budget- Employee Benefits Impacted

How will the new 2019 Federal Budget impact benefit plan sponsors, employees, and employers?

National Pharmacare Program

With the March 2019 Federal budget, progress is being made towards instituting a National Pharmacare Program. The move away from Provincial Pharmacare Programs involves projects to develop a National Drug Formulary and the creation of a Canada Drug Agency (CDA) plus a National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs and Rare Diseases.

Our publicly funded health care system is based on need and is the envy of many countries around the world. However, a National Pharmacare Program would cover the costs for expensive drugs necessary to help Canadians with certain rare diseases.

Protect Employees & Pensions from Employer Insolvency

The new Federal budget is also looking into how to improve creditor protection for plan members should an employer declare bankruptcy. The goal is to improve the fairness and transparency of the insolvency proceedings and make them more accessible for plan members.

Canadian Training Benefit

As of 2020, if you are an employee between the ages of 25 and 64 and with an income of less than $150,000, you may be eligible for the Canadian Training Benefit. This EI Training Support Benefit provides an automatic credit of $250 per year (with a $5000 lifetime limit). The benefit can be used for up to 4 weeks of leave or towards training fees for college, university, or any other eligible institution. You must have 600 insurable hours to qualify.

Summary

For more information about the 2019 Federal Budget in Canada, visit the Government of Canada page entitled, Investing in the Middle Class.

Need Help with Employee Benefits Plans?

If you are an employer and you want to learn more about what you can do for your employees, our employee benefits brokers can help.

If your business employs 10 or more employees and you don’t currently have an employee benefits plan, let us show you how a well-designed plan can benefit your employees and your business.

Benefit Strategies Inc. is located in Edmonton Alberta and we service businesses throughout all the Western Provinces plus the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

If you still have questions about how the Canadian 2019 Federal budget will affect employee benefits, please call our benefits brokers at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

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Green Shield Canada – SMARTspend Benefits Plan

Mental health support and complete drug coverage are both central in the new SMARTspend benefits plan by Green Shield Canada.

Although massage therapy coverage has been terminated, the SMARTspend benefits plan is a revolutionary product by Green Shield Canada that will focus on:

  • Better support for mental health
  • Options for digital mental health support
  • 100% coverage with no dollar caps for managed drug formularies
  • Coaching by Pharmacists
  • Coaching by Dietitians
  • Vision care benefits
  • Dental care benefits

David Willows, chief innovation and marketing officer for Green Shield Canada, explains that the new SMARTspend benefits plan is a holistic response to cost containment, scientific literature, and outdated standardized plan designs. Older plan designs he says don’t reflect value and haven’t kept up with the increase in chronic diseases, mental health issues, or the impact of expensive drugs.

According to The Canadian Mental Health Association:

  • 50% of the population aged 40 or over has had, or currently suffers from mental illness
  • In 1998, the costs to treat mental illnesses in Canada was estimated at approximately $7.9 billion
  • $4.7 billion of those dollars were spent on care
  • $3.2 billion of those dollars were spent on treating disabilities and early death

Sponsors of the SMARTspend benefits plan can also add healthcare spending accounts and additional funds for massages and personal healthcare as options.

The prevalence of mental illness and its toll on the Canadian healthcare system make a compelling case for investing in mental health in Canada.

Still Have Questions About SMARTspend Benefits Plan?

Let Edmonton’s Benefit Strategies Inc. introduce your company to the new SMARTspend benefits plan by Green Shield Canada. For more information, call our benefits brokers at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

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Top 10 Workforce Priorities: Survey

Employee productivity and engagement, wellness, and attracting and retaining employees are among the top workforce priorities for Canadian employers, according to a new survey

The survey polled approximately 200 Canadian plan sponsors in relation to their group benefits, priorities in the workforce, and more.

Top 10 Priorities

  1. Employee productivity/engagement
  2. Employee wellness
  3. Attracting, retaining employees; developing skills for changing the business environment
  4. Workplace mental health
  5. Employee financial wellness
  6. Family support obligations, the effect on productivity and well-being
  7. Chronic illness, the effect on productivity
  8. Multi-generational workforce
  9. Delayed retirement – productivity and performance challenges
  10. Delayed retirement – employees working past normal retirement age

Health, wellness, and engagement are key. How do you creatively implement and activate cost-effective employee benefit plans to support your workforce priorities?

Call one of Alberta’s most trusted employee benefits companies, Benefits Strategies Inc., at 1-780-437-5070 and speak with one of our advisors. We can also be reached by Email.

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3 Tips to Improve Acceptance of Employee Benefits Changes

Modifying Employee Benefits & Minimizing Resistance

Making employee benefits changes and package modifications are sometimes not easily understood by staff. In some cases, making changes to employee benefits do not receive the widespread acceptance that an employer might hope for.

There are numerous ways employers can explain employee benefits changes. The objective is to provide a better understanding of necessary modifications to employee benefits while minimizing resistance that could derail the entire procedure.

In this post, our employee benefits brokers offer 3 Tips on how to better communicate employee benefits changes.

Tip 1: Lead by Example When Implementing Employee Benefits Changes

Informal and formal leaders, as well as those who have the ability to influence decision-making processes, need to support the employee benefits changes completely.

Any attempt to present adapted or modified versions of employee benefits without sincerity and honesty on behalf of people in these leading positions may appear hollow. Contemplate having the CEO explain proposed changes in a clear and sincere message to employees.

Tip 2: Involve Employees in the Benefits Changes Process

Employees who are involved from the outset in the process of implementing employee benefits changes are more likely to be receptive to proposed revisions.

Surveys or focus groups are excellent ways to explore the preferences and needs of employees. Avoid asking questions that you may not want to hear the answers to. Also avoid bringing up any other elements that are not on the table for amendment.

Tip 3: Clearly Communicate Potential Benefits Changes

While you can’t reveal everything to all your employees, be candid about what is evolved and why the employee benefits changes are necessary.

  • Identify stakeholders and important messages
  • Develop a timeline
  • And provide employees with adequate feedback channels

If uncertain about how to develop an acceptable communication mechanism, ask your employees for their input.

Employees don’t always interpret employee benefits changes as being necessary or beneficial. The onus is on employers to provide a clear explanation of modifications and how the adaptations will affect employees. You will also need to communicate whether or not employees will be provided with opportunities to contribute and respond.

About Benefits Strategies

For over 30 years Benefits Strategies have been providing creative, customized benefits programs for executives and employees. Our plans not only increase employee morale and satisfaction, they also elevate your business profile.

If you have any questions or need assistance with communicating employee benefit changes, please call our Edmonton office at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

You can read more about the Canadian Human Rights Pension and Insurance Regulations on the Government of Canada’s Justice Laws website.

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Can Employee Benefits Drive Employee Engagement?

Benefits of Employee Engagement

Employee benefits do help in improving employee engagement. In fact, as employee engagement rises, more than ever we are seeing positive spinoffs such as:

  • Lower employee turnover
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Elevated profitability
  • Increases in productivity
  • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Improved morale

Read more in our article Employee Well Being & Productivity – Survey Results.

1. Employee Benefits That Drive Engagement

To date, improved employee engagement results are more of an unintended consequence than a calculated implementation on behalf of an employer. As employee benefits are implemented, employees become more engaged and the advantages can often be immediate.

Varying percentages of employers view the following benefits as being most favourable for improving employee engagement:

  • Flexible Work Provisions — 39%
  • Human Resources Policies — 34%
  • A Healthy Work Environment — 29%
  • On Site Flu Shots — 26%

Even though most of these are cultural benefits and not related to employee benefits plans, as much as 97% of plan sponsors and 88% of plan members currently under flex plans agree that they prefer these programs.

2. More Employee Benefits Choices Help Power More Engagement

Expanding traditional employee benefits plans to include individual decision-making capabilities prompt significantly more engagement than a prescribed list of benefits. Allowing a degree of control over benefits where employees can choose coverage most appropriate to their own needs helps to build confidence and trust.

Malleability does not mean more choices will increase employer administration complexity however. Alternative plans are possible without adding additional pressure to management or human resources.

3. Employee Benefits — Planning for Engagement

At Benefit Strategies Inc., we recommend that you consider an employee benefits plan design with employee engagement in mind. Focus on what is significant to your employees to help improve their percentage of engagement. Our employee benefits brokers can help you contemplate offerings that provide the best results, such as flexibility and financial literacy.

Employees, who feel financially prepared, experience less stress, are healthier overall, and do exhibit more engagement and productivity. Integrating financial planning courses into your employee benefits curriculum can have significant advantages for employers.

Communication is key to incorporating any change and will keep the process relatively painless for human resources and management to administer.

  • Create circumstances where employees can provide feedback
  • Review options and encourage employee interaction
  • Highlight the well being of individual employees

Let our employee benefits brokers show you how you can propose new employee benefits features without completely disengaging from traditional plans. By increasing the opportunity for employee choices you will not only support positive health but also keep your employee benefits financially sustainable for the long term.

About Benefit Strategies

Located in Edmonton, Alberta, Benefit Strategies Inc. is here to help you create a flexible employee benefits package designed to interest and retain top employees. We provide value analyses backed with dependable advice, while working with the top benefits providers across Canada.

Whether your business is in Alberta, the Northwest Territories or any of the Western Provinces, our employee benefits brokers can help.

If you have any questions about improving employee engagement with the help of your employee benefits plan, please send us an email or call Benefit Strategies office in Edmonton at 1-780-437-5070.

For more information, check out this article by Custom Insight entitled, What Is Employee Engagement.

Check out some of our other related articles that may be of interest:

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Financial Issues Affect Employee Health & Productivity

What You As an Employer Can Do to Help

How does employee financial wellness affect the employer?

The relationship between health and productivity is an issue that most employers have to contend with.

As an employer, you’ve probably struggled with the effect of sickness in the workplace but have you also thought about employee financial wellness?

Does their financial health also affect their productivity and if so, what can you do about it?

recent study by Manulife Financial Corporation surveyed more than 200 employee assistance program counsellors. The study’s objective was to two-fold:

  1. To investigate how employees feel about their own financial struggles and how it affects their workplace productivity.
  2. And to find out what role employers can play in employee financial wellness.

Of the counselors surveyed, the results showed that:

  • 93% believe employee financial wellness affects work and productivity.
  • 99% think workplace pension and health plans play an important role in providing safety, security, and support to overall employee financial wellness.
  • 46% feel it is difficult for employees who suffer from financial health issues.
  • 74% feel personal finances have significant impact on the emotional and mental health of employees.

Only a third of the counsellors surveyed see people making this important connection between an employee’s personal finances and other problems.

As An Employer What Options Do You Have?

Are you aware of the employee financial wellness of your workforce? Are you wondering about strategies and how you can implement them to help improve productivity and the overall wellbeing of your employees?

Here are some suggestions that you might want to consider.

  1. Recognizethat the costs of an employee’s financial health are connected and similar to the costs of their physical and mental health.
  2. Help employees recognize how their financial health (along with physical and mental health) can affect their performance in the workplace.
  3. Provide resources such as employee financial wellness assessments that can help pinpoint potential causes of financial stress. (For example, your employees could be struggling with budgeting or debt, which can be huge stressors for an individual or household.)
  4. Incorporate employee benefits plans that could help alleviate financial stress such as health spending accounts that can take away the strain of a dental bill. You can also implement employee benefit plans that help employees start investing and saving for retirement.
  5. Break the stigma of financial health in the workplace. Over the last several years the movement to talk about mental health in the workplace has started to breakdown that stigma but it is equally as important to create a safe space for employees to talk about their finances, to ask questions and to get help finding the answers.

About Benefit Strategies Inc.

Benefit Strategies is based in Edmonton, Alberta and services business and corporate customers throughout Canada’s Western Provinces and the Northwest Territories. Let our experienced employee benefits brokers help you discover creative ways to reward your employees that will contribute to their financial wellbeing such as Group RRSPs and Pension Plans or Health Care Spending Accounts.

You can call Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

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