Three-quarters (74 per cent) of employers cite cost as the most important aspect to consider when designing and reviewing their benefits plans, followed by employee attraction and retention (63 per cent), according to a new survey by MBWL International Ltd. and Normandin Beaudry.

Daniel Drolet, a senior partner at Normandin Beaudry, says while employers focused on employee well-being in 2020 and 2021, they may have shifted their focus to cost due to rising inflation. “I think this is the tip of the iceberg right now. . . . The question for employers becomes, ‘Should we invest in benefits? Is [money] better in the pockets of employees because they have to face inflation each time they go to the grocery store or to support them as the cost of their health services are increasing?’”

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The global survey, which polled almost 120 employers representing six million employees, found 74 per cent of respondents said health-care/medical benefits are the most important benefit to employees and 62 per cent said these benefits are the most important part of their employee value proposition.

“It’s never a good idea to step back with the benefits you do offer, so we need to make sure we support employees and avoid cutting benefits in the future,” says Drolet. “One thing we’ve seen in recent years is a turnover increase. If you support your employees, you have a better chance of retaining them, keeping them in good health and productive, so [improving benefits] is worth the investment.”

Roughly two-thirds (62 per cent) of employers said aligning benefits with corporate objectives is the most important aspect of benefits governance, followed by ensuring compliance (56 per cent). Half (49 per cent) of respondents said health benefits demand the most internal resources to manage, compared to pensions/retirement plans (46 per cent).

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When asked which diversity, equity and inclusion factors they consider when designing and managing benefits, two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents cited equity across job levels, while 66 per cent cited age/generational considerations.

While some employers may view the integration of DEI factors into their benefits plans as a daunting task, breaking the strategy into different segments can help the process, says Drolet. “Start with a good assessment, find a road map and then use good communication to explain to employees what you’re doing. Be honest and transparent about limitations and then move forward with aligning your benefits plan with a DEI perspective.”

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