Employee Benefits Innovation: the Future of Work, Benefits, and Recruitment
By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday April 5, 2022Updated : Wednesday June 22, 2022
Every April, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) celebrates National Employee Benefits Day. Today — April 5th, 2022 — we’re taking this year’s theme “your benefits, reimagined” and taking a good, hard look at employee benefits now and in the future to identify areas of opportunity, innovation, and change.
Everyone’s Looking at Your Employee Benefits
Employers’ benefits plans are under the microscope now more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic and the mental health crisis have both brought Canadians’ health to the forefront of their minds. Add in the ongoing worry over the Great Resignation, and it’s clear that employees have more opportunity and are scrutinizing employers more and more.
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So, what does that mean for employers? It means it’s time to innovate.
Innovating to Meet Changing Employee Needs
The last two years have seen significant changes in how people work. Adapting to employees’ changing needs has required new technology, new products and services, and new ways to deliver them.
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Increased Need for Mental Wellness
It’s no secret that Canadians’ mental health has been hit hard. According to LifeWorks Mental Health Index, we still have not bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, our psychological health is at its lowest in the last 23 months. And even before the pandemic mental health was on the decline.
Employers understand the need to provide mental health support. Not just as a recruitment and retention tool, but also to ensure employees are happy and engaged.
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Working from home became a necessity for many during the pandemic, and is something that many Canadians are still doing. Although employees save time and money not driving to the office, they also lose small amounts of exercise. Walking through the parking lot or up flights of stairs, or even going to a co-worker’s office or the kitchen can add up.
An employee at home in their comfy clothes might not be as motivated to stay active and fit. Some co-workers might have used their lunch to go for a walk or to the gym together, which can be another motivational loss.
Not all workers have an ideal home office either. Some are crammed into closets or relegated to corners of a bedroom or living room. A desk could be a coffee table or their lap, and their chair might be a couch or a stool.
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Regardless of an employee’s location, their physical health is always important, and employers can encourage good habits through benefits offerings.
With the leaps and bounds made over the last couple of years, virtual health care is more accessible than ever! And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, 82% of Canadian Employees want virtual health care access through their employee benefits.
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The Future of Benefits is Here
Great employers know that taking care of their employees is about more than just recruitment and retention. It’s also about building trust, showing compassion, and creating a company culture that employees can thrive in. Here are a few of the ways BBD has addressed our employees’ physical and mental well-being.
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Mental Wellness Support
Employees can receive confidential mental health support through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Each employee is provided with professional counseling or therapy tailored to their unique needs. Some employees are still not comfortable with using their EAP, however, as the utilization of these programs has shown.
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In order to help even further, we separated our psychology benefit from the rest of the paramedical services within our Extended Health Coverage. This meant that on top of our usual coverage for paramedical services, we now have an extra maximum reserved specifically for the re-named “Mental Health Services”. These include:
- Master of Social Work
- Counsellor/Social Worker
- MindBeacon Therapist Guided Program
Physical Health Support
It’s predicted that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers. And currently, 16% of all companies only hire remote workers. As the way we work changes, employers have an opportunity to promote their health in different ways.
Employee benefits already help support our physical wellness. Extended Health provides physiotherapy and chiropractic services coverage, and Dental provides preventative cleaning and scaling services.
But there’s more employers can do. Offer a Wellness Spending Account (WSA) (also known as a Personal Spending Account (PSA)) that covers physical fitness items. For example, you can choose to cover fitness equipment, passes and memberships to gyms and dance lessons, ski hills or climbing walls. At BBD, we even cover ergonomic office equipment for employees that want special at-home desks, chairs or other office items.
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Telemedicine and Virtual Care
There are so many options out there, it can be a bit daunting. Employers can opt to have their plan cover virtual care expenses just the same as the plan would cover an in-person visit to a physiotherapist’s office.
But employers can do even more! Add-ons to the extended health benefit such as Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (MindBeacon) or Substance Abuse Management (ALAViDA) can assist employees confidentially. Rather than listing all the options here, check out our blog on Virtual Healthcare: Telehealth Services to Use During COVID-19 (bbd.ca)
This National Employee Benefits Day is a great occasion to review your benefits plan and see if it still fits with what your employees need. There will always be room for growth and improvement because the modernization and adaptation of employee benefits is continual.