Employee Benefits

Why Flexible Benefits Offerings Win Over Employees

By Jaime Laprise on February, 4 2020
5 minute read

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Today’s labour markets feature a diverse workforce spanning across multiple generations, each with their own unique physical, emotional, and financial needs. They also have different perceptions of the role their employer is expected to play in helping them address those needs.

As this trend continues, employers will be forced to dedicate more time and attention towards navigating the roads of maintaining a happy and thriving workforce as other employers begin to roll out more flexible and customizable plans.

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In this blog, we’ll look at how taking an individualized approach to structuring your benefits offering appeals to a workforce with varied needs.

Learn how to create a successful workplace wellness program from the ground up  >>

Employers Know their Benefits Offering Need Updating

A recent survey conducted by AON provides a behind the scenes look at how employers feel their plans perform when it comes to meeting the needs of their employees:

  • 63% of the 214 companies surveyed believe their benefits meet their existing workforce diversity needs
  • 87% acknowledged that their employees’ expectations of benefits and workplace experience have changed
  • 76% agreed that the need to improve is ongoing

Though not surprising, the results do suggest that employers are aware that benefits now extend beyond a health and dental plan. They understand that the quality of the benefits plan plays a major role in their employees’ view of how invested they are in their emotional, physical and financial wellbeing.

The question that must inevitably be asked after this realization is, “where do I start?”   

Employees Know Which Benefits they Need

Employees know which workplace perks and benefits will have the greatest impact on their overall well-being. To that end, if you’re considering making enhancements to your plan, there are a couple popular solutions for individualizing benefit plans:

  • Health Spending Accounts
  • Lifestyle Spending Accounts
  • Flexible Benefits Plans

The flexibility and user-friendliness of health spending accounts (HSA) and lifestyle spending accounts (LSA) are well-documented. These accounts allow employers to allocate money for employees to use over the course of one or two years to enhance their existing benefits plan. They help address a couple challenges posed by traditional benefits plans:

  • Funds from an HSA can be used to take care of health-related services that aren’t covered by the plan or to increase spending on things that become maxed out over the course of the year such as glasses or expensive dental work.
  • Funds from an LSA allow employers to reimburse their employees for expenses that fall outside a traditional benefits plan, but otherwise contribute towards their overall wellbeing. Think of transit passes, family excursions or even sports equipment..

Flexible Benefits Plans, as the name suggests, grants employees the ability to have a say in the design of their coverage – contrasting with a traditional benefits plan that is designed as a one-size-fits-all solution.

Logistically, the employer establishes a budget and decides which benefits will be made available. Employees then select how much of their budget they want to allocate towards specific coverages. If an employee places more importance on comprehensive dental coverage, they can do so at their expense or by sacrificing the variety of other coverages.  Traditional flex plans can be complex to administer and are usually limited to larger employers with the Human Resources to devote to annual enrolment and ongoing plan monitoring. However, it is possible to create mini-flex plans through most insurance carriers to provide an element of choice to smaller employers.

 

Personalize Your Wellness Offerings

Health issues related to fitness, diet, stress, and emotional balance are not necessarily addressed by basic healthcare, and yet they have a significant impact on employees and their performance.

It’s been reported that 70% of Canadian employees are concerned with psychological health and safety in their workplace and that 25% of Canadians report their day-to-day lives are highly stressful and affects their personal relationships, sleep, and physical health.

Promoting emotional and physical wellness in the workplace is in most employers’ crosshairs, but engaging employees to participate can be a challenge. A 2019 survey conducted by RBC Insurance reports that 80% of employees believe their overall wellbeing would improve if their employer offered a personalized wellness program. As they dug deeper into what that may look like, they identified the following as differentiators into the success of a wellness program:

  • A tailored wellness program specific to health-related goals
  • Progress-based incentives/rewards
  • Time away from their desk during working hours to dedicate to wellness

Do Something Different

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Unique isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you describe a benefits plan, but that doesn’t mean yours can’t be. Here’s some food for thought:

For all generations, vacations are a tried and tested way of taking a load off. They help employees recharge so they can perform at their peak. Millennials and Gen Z are far more interested in experiences than things and for many, travel is very important. To accommodate this desire and build greater flexibility, consider offering a group savings plan beyond a retirement plan. Label it a vacation account or whatever your team’s short term financial goal is.  It’s unconventional, but totally doable.

Another thing that comes to mind for employees with growing families is additional insurance. The life, critical illness or disability insurance provided through a group plan serves as a nice foundation of coverage for your employees, but sometimes it’s not enough to address all their needs. 

It’s common for people to self-source insurance to cover mortgage debt or provide for loved ones, Employers can provide easier access to life and critical illness insurance to the families of their employees by including optional insurance directly through their plan. And for those families that include pets, group pet insurance is available to protect against unexpected vet visits.

Common perceptions of what a benefits plan looks like don't have to limit your creativity. If you have something “different” in mind, having a conversation with an advisor about your unique organizational traits can help you stand-out as a forward-thinking employer that people want to work for. 

 

Leveraging Technology to Improve Employee Wellness

two-woman-doing-exercise-1671217Technology can play a major role in the delivery of a personalized employee experience. Many apps are hitting the market with the sole purpose of promoting health and wellness. Telus Health reports that one in four Canadians make use of health-related apps on their phones. Smartphones and other devices promise to shape the way employees consume the services available through their benefits plan.

For example, telemedicine has become more common in workplace environments. An Ipsos poll of 1,501 employed Canadians suggests that 72% of respondents would regard their employer more positively if they offered telemedicine or virtual care. 

New technologies are entering the healthcare space regularly.  Your advisor can help you to source and implement new services throughout the year.

 

Key Takeaways

The delivery of a personalized employee benefits experience can be accomplished in a variety of ways. 

If you’re interested in exploring options that’ll appeal to your diverse workforce, a Montridge advisor would serve as a great starting point. They’ll use their experience to help identify different areas of focus and align you with providers with offerings that coincide with your needs.

Learn More

Supporting Employee Mental Health: A Workshop Designed for People Leaders

Montridge Advisory Group has partnered with Morneau Shepell for a half-day workshop designed to provide front line managers and HR personnel with the tools to recognize the link between mental health issues and more.

Learn More

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