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The Benefits to You
The same plans designed to protect employees will also offer advantages to employers

A well-structured benefits plan offers employees a sense of security when they are most vulnerable. Like a marriage, the support is there in sickness and in health.

The businesses which sponsor these plans also have much to gain.

In a recent survey by Sanofi Canada, 67% of employers said they offered plans so employees were not placed under an undue financial burden. Dig a little further into the data and you will find other reasons including:

  • Keeping employees healthy and productive (57%)
    Employees will enjoy the benefits of healthy living when they embrace wellness programs to quit smoking, improve diets or increase physical activity. Industry Canada notes that a health and safety culture can also reduce absenteeism and drug costs alike. Healthier employees take fewer sick days, and require fewer maintenance drugs for issues such as high blood pressure.
  • Attracting and retaining employees (52%)
    Established employees who are caring for families will certainly value options such as dental care for children and the assurance that families will be cared for in a time of need. But don't discount the value of benefits to younger single employees. A study by a financial services company known as Barclays found that 12% of Generation Y workers (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) have actually considered changing employers because they are dissatisfied with benefits packages.
  • Providing peace of mind for employees (50%)
    Employee Assistance Programs will help to reduce the level of "presenteeism"– the times when employees are in the workplace but not truly focused on the tasks at hand. Statistics Canada suggests that these costs are at least 7.5 times higher than the productivity lost through outright absenteeism. In a 2010 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Coping with Overload and Stress, more than four out of five employees with a high "work-family conflict" went to work when they were unwell. They were hardly focused on the jobs when they arrived, and also put their coworkers at risk.
  • Reducing absenteeism and disability claims (45%)
    According to the Conference Board of Canada, workplace absenteeism cost the economy $16.6 billion in 2012. The average full-time employee missed 9.3 days of work in 2011. And the costs may be higher than some employers realize. Fewer than half of Canadian organizations track employee absences.
  • Coverage for treatments of chronic conditions (27%)
    According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, three out of every five Canadians over the age of 20 have a chronic disease, and four out of five are at risk of developing a chronic condition. Examples range from arthritis to diabetes and depression. When properly treated by such things as maintenance drugs, employees will miss fewer work days.

Given all these advantages, it also makes sense to ensure that plans evolve to best meet employee needs and expectations.

In a Sanofi survey of plan members, 60% said they would like to reduce out-of-pocket expenses.  Forty-one percent of plan members were looking for eldercare, and that will be particularly important to members of the sandwich generation who are caring for aging parents while also supporting children.

Wellness initiatives were valued, too. In the same survey, 37% said they would like fitness equipment, 31% wanted fitness or yoga classes, 24% would like health and wellness coaching, and 21% would like personal trainers. Looking to the future, 35% were interested in the genetic testing which could indicate whether they are at risk of future health issues.

Interest was also expressed in extending coverage to other family members – but not the ones you might expect. A full 20% said they would like access to pet insurance.

The employers who track issues like these will be in the best position to reshape benefits plans, enhancing recruiting and retention efforts alike.

Top Tips:

  • Consider the costs of absenteeism and presenteeism when looking to make a business case for workplace wellness programs.
  • Include benefits information in recruiting packages, but also offer regular reminders of the support that is available.
  • Regularly survey employees to determine the benefits they value most. Small changes in a plan could be highly valued and support employee retention efforts.

Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. All of the content herein is the sole property of the Callery Group, and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system - in whole or in part - without the written permission of the Callery Group. Links to the originating article at www.callerygroup.com are permitted.

The Buzz Bits
Miscellaneous links to interesting benefits information

The four top ways for employers to avoid liability to employees for disability benefits: Blaney McMurtry

When is the worst time to launch a wellness program?: smallbizadvisor

Well-being strategies lacking, integration is key: smallbizadvisor

Treat people ... like people: Daily Mentoring with Darren Hardy

Community Ethics, Big City Expertise

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