Workplace staff meeting on set of stairs.

Do You Know What Health Benefits Your Employees Really Want?

In a 2017 healthcare survey by Sanofi Canada entitled, “Winds of Change – New Directions In Employee Health Benefits,” author Danny Peak reported some very interesting findings about which health care benefits employees seem to really want.

In this Benefit Strategies blog post we’ll give you a quick overview of the Sanofi survey results and take a closer look at what these results could mean to you and your employees.

Employee Satisfaction with Health Care Benefits Is Falling

According to the Sanofi healthcare survey, fewer employees (only 53%) feel that their employee health benefit plans do a great job at meeting their specific needs. This is down significantly from the 73% reported back in 1999!

Even more alarming is that 68% of the survey respondents (up from 51% in 2000) said they feel that their employers are putting a higher priority on cutting costs, at the expense of providing better health care benefits.

What Health Care Benefits Do Employees Want?

Sadly, only 11% of today’s employees report being content with the current levels of healthcare benefits coverage they receive for paramedical services, vision care, prescription drugs, basic dental, and for major dental services.

A significant number of employees stated that they would like to see an increase in healthcare benefits coverage for the following three important areas:

  • 25% want better coverage for Major Dental services
  • 21% want better coverage for Vision Care services
  • 21% want better coverage for Paramedical Services

Employers should take note since the perception of the employee is that there is still significant room for improvement where coverage is concerned.

Adding Health Risk Screenings As A Possible Benefit

The employees that took the time to complete the Sanofi Canada survey also stated that they would be interested in trying new benefits coverage such as “Health Risk Screenings” in an effort to better address their individual health issues. The survey report indicated that:

  • 83% of employees were interested in coverage for cancer screenings
  • 80% would like coverage for heart disease screenings
  • 71% would like coverage for diabetes screenings
  • 64% would like coverage for stress or mental illness screenings

What Health Care Benefits Would Employees Be Willing to Reduce?

If employees had the option to choose and could reduce one benefits plan coverage in favour of another, 60% of those who want major dental services, and 53% who want vision care services, stated they would be willing to reduce their paramedical coverage if necessary.

Conversely, of those who want better paramedical services coverage, 35% of employees would be willing to reduce dental benefits, and 32% would be willing to reduce vision care coverage.

How to Adapt – What Options Do You Have As An Employer?

In our last blog article entitled, “How Are Today’s Health Benefits Plans Changing?” we reported that only 23% of Canadian healthcare benefits plans have a flexible structure while 64% of surveyed employees said the would like to have better control over their own healthcare benefits plans.

Thankfully this is now possible with the League Digital Health Insurance App, which will also help employers save since they will only pay for whatever benefits have been used.

To learn more about how you can adapt your employee healthcare benefits plan to better meet the needs of your employees, or about the League Digital Health App, call Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

A meeting discussing productivity study.

Which Industries Offer the Best Benefits

While salaries are still the strongest incentive, many potential employees also look at industries with the best benefits like paid leave, health insurance, and retirement plans.

In 2016, Glassdoor conducted an anonymous online survey of past and present employees who rated employers across eight different industries, with over 470,000 responses. The objective was to uncover which North American industries (that currently have active job openings) offer the best employee benefits.

The three industries that came out on top with the highest rated benefits packages were:

  1. Finance Sector
  2. Information Technology
  3. Manufacturing

Not surprisingly, food service and retail industries were rated at the bottom of those surveyed with education, health services and business services rounding out the mix.

What Are the Top Industries Doing Differently

According to a Glassdoor study, 3 out of 5 respondents consider “perks” and “benefits” right up there with salary when evaluating job compensation.

In support of this, when searching for top employees, many finance and technology companies stated that they had “increased benefits” as a means of attracting the most desirable candidates.

In the manufacturing sector, offering significant incentives are necessary to attract and maintain highly skilled tradespeople. The unions who represent the employees generally negotiate premium benefits packages for employees in manufacturing.

Most respondents that considered parental leave a top priority were from the education and IT sectors, while business services, retail, and health care had the lowest ratings in that category.

Additional Perks

The Glassdoor survey also examined free snacks and free food as perks of the job.

While the quality of benefits in the food service industry may be some of the lowest, this sector did offer the best perks in terms of free food and snacks. However the education and retail sectors received the lowest rating for food perks.

Want to Offer Your Employees Better Benefits?

In today’s job market there seems to be an upswing in terms of the number of potential employees looking for added benefits along with a competitive salary.

Regardless of what industry you are in, Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton Alberta can help you rethink your employee benefits package and help you attract the best employees for your job postings.

Call us today at 780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Waitress serving young patrons food in a restaurant.

Restaurant Finds Unique Way to Fund Employee Benefits Plan

A Toronto restaurant found a unique approach to employee benefits funding.

The restaurant began adding a 3% surcharge to each bill, with the funds to be used only to help provide employees with health and dental benefits.

Co-owner Heather Mee, was quoted in a May 2017 Benefits Canada article as saying, the surcharge was a “…more honest and transparent way” of funding the employee benefits.

In fact, there will be a separate item on each bill that is easily tracked and accountable so that it cannot be entered into the restaurant owner’s pockets.

The sole purpose for the bill surcharge is to provide a means of self funding employee benefits costs.

According to Mee, the average restaurant diner will spend less than $15 on a meal. This means that the surcharge for the benefits plan for each meal amounts to less than $0.50. As well, Mee states that diners who wish not to contribute will be allowed to opt out of the surcharge.

Aside from helping to cover health and dental, the employee benefits plan also covers services such as orthotics, massage therapy, and life insurance.

Mee acknowledges that the proceeds raised from the restaurant bill surcharge won’t cover all the expenses so the restaurant will pick up the balance.

In a market where few restaurants even offer benefits (because industry margins are minuscule and raising meal prices can be risky for the business), Mee admits that for her restaurant, this employee benefits funding alternative was a no brainer. Happy employees stay longer. And, many long-time restaurant customers are happy to contribute if it means helping the employees.

Need a benefits plan for your restaurant? Benefit Strategies can help.

Call us today at 780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Millenial using MyHSA benefits health app on her phone.

Introducing League Health Insurance Benefits

Benefit Strategies Inc. is proud to offer its customers access to League Health Insurance Benefits – an employee benefits plan that can be customized through the League digital health app!

League Health Insurance Company is an employee benefits provider that offers a digital alternative to traditional health benefits. With League, employees (and employers) can say goodbye to one-size-fits-all benefits plans and tight spending restrictions.

Employees Love League Benefits Canada

Here are four reasons why employees love this new League digital health app and four reasons you will love the health benefits plan too!

  1. Digital First. League Insurance is a fully digital health benefits provider. Employees can check their account balances, transaction history, statements, receipts, and more, all within the League Digital Health App.
  2. Diverse expanded benefits plans. League Benefits offers a Lifestyle Spending Account where your employees can choose a variety of services including gym memberships, personal training, health coaching, food and supplements, physiotherapy, and more.
  3. Convenience. In addition to going digital, your employees will love the convenience of on-site health screenings and flu clinics. If incorporated, they will no longer have to visit their local clinic for a flu shot, massage, blood pressure testing, and other health screening options.
  4. Membership reviews. Thanks to the League digital benefits marketplace, there are literally thousands of health services available from some of the best professionals in the business – all rated by League’s members. The League Insurance roster includes only qualified professionals who have been verified, rated, and reviewed.

Reasons You Will Love League Benefits

  1. Financial Control. League offers a fixed contribution model that allows for cost control and certainty. There will be no more end of the year surprises and you only pay for what your employees actually use.
  2. Flexibility. Build an employee benefits plan that is perfect for your business and team. Options include popular packaged benefits plans with flexible spending accounts or a-la-carte menu of products and services that meet your needs and fit within your budget.
  3. Onsite Workplace Health Services. Bringing healthcare to your employees can improve the overall wellness of your workplace, which can lead to reduced stress, improved morale, fewer sick days, and many more benefits. League’s Workplace Health Services include verified health professionals providing on-site services such as health screenings and clinics, group fitness classes, stress management, and more. When health is incorporated into your company culture, everyone feels they are well looked after!
  4. Tax Deductions. Your company can enjoy some great tax deductions by introducing an Employee Benefits Plan like League Insurance. Ask us how!

To learn more about League Benefits and the League digital health app, or how League can improve the overall health, wellness, and satisfaction of your employees, please contact Benefit Strategies Inc. today at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

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.

A meeting discussing productivity study.

Workplace Wellbeing – Top Goals of Global Employers

Conducted biannually by Xerox HR Services, a new global survey on workplace wellbeing collected data from 33 countries and across 428 different organizations revealing some surprising statistics for the four top goals measured by global employers:

  • 59% ranked increasing productivity in the workplace as their main objective
  • 56% ranked improving employee engagement as another major priority
  • 54% ranked attracting and retaining employees as vitally important to their success
  • 49% ranked increasing organizational values as also being vitally important

While only a third of respondents reported strong cultures of workplace wellbeing, 83% said they aspired towards a strong culture for their future, even though the following were ranked near the bottom of the workplace wellbeing survey:

  • Only 45% suggested that reducing costs for insurance and health care was a priority
  • Only 34% were interested in minimizing employee absences

Productivity Tops Priorities

The emphasis for almost all the companies who responded seemed to be directed more towards productivity and company growth. In this survey, global health strategies are currently being pursued by 69% of respondents, while only 42% indicated they were pursuing global wellbeing strategies.

As high as 74% indicated that workplace wellbeing programs were an element of importance where their employee value propositions were concerned. If this is the case, it will be necessary for them to invest in resources and programs that make these more readily available to their employees.

There is support from leadership (52%), and 92% credited the efforts of local ambassadors’ with making wellbeing part of their company culture.

Other programs were offered as well:

  • 92% of the companies offer financial security and preparedness programs
  • 91% offered financial programs for literacy (and skills where finances are concerned)

Employers also realize that to get employees to pay more attention to long-term strategies, employers need to assist employees in making ends meet in the short term. Find our more on our Benefit Services Planning page.

If you are considering the introduction of (or changes to) your workplace wellbeing program to increase productivity, why not discuss your ideas today with one of our experienced Benefit Strategists?

You can reach us at 1-780-437-5070 or by email.

Businessman with his finger on the word BENEFITS

Millennials Willing To Pay More For Workplace Health Benefits

Millennials are an altogether different breed than the genXers or boomers that preceded them.

According to a Benefits Canada article, A third of Millennials would pay more for better health benefits. Millennials are also more likely to seek employment with companies that offer group and individually specific benefits.

To entice and retain this generation of employees, employers will have to up the ante for workplace health benefits to make their businesses attractive enough to appease this audience.

What Millennials Want In the Workplace

Unlike previous generations, Millennials are very focused on health benefits. In a Willis Towers Watson survey, Millennials signaled that if given an allowance to outlay for benefits, they would apportion more than 50% to health care.

According to a LifeCourse Associates article by Neil Howe, 63% of Millennials indicate that employee benefits are a significant reason they stay with an employer. This is a higher number and a sharp departure from any previous generation. In the same article, it suggests that 70% of Millennials rate health insurance as vital and worth the investment.

Wooing the Millennial Worker

Because Millennials think about health care differently than previous generations, their employers will need to consider workplace health benefits more targeted for this age group. Millennials expect that employers will be supportive and offer comprehensive health benefits that address their needs.

Even if the millennial has to contribute more financially to these health plans, they will more than likely be willing participants. What employers need to do is make the decision to offer a workplace health benefits plan that will attract and retain this sector of the workforce.

Millennials are prepared to work for you. Are you prepared to work with them?

For more information on Millennials and their willingness to pay more for workplace health benefits, contact Benefit Strategies by phone at 1-780-437-5070 |  or send us an email.