The bulk of Canadian employers believe that offering benefits increases employees’ productivity and gives them a hiring advantage—but many employers aren’t implementing the necessary programs to reap those benefits.

According to Manulife Financial’s Small Business Research Report, more than three-quarters (76%) of small business owners and managers in Canada believe that taking care of employees makes them work harder for the company, and 55% believe that offering competitive health benefits is a crucial element in attracting and retaining top talent. Yet despite this, 42% of small business owners surveyed do not currently offer such benefits, although almost one in three (27%) have considered it.

This data shows there is a significant level of interest and a considerable market opportunity for health and retirement benefits within Canada’s small business community. Understanding the views that small business owners have about benefits plans and how they align with their business goals is a critical success factor for advisors working in this segment.

“An advisor who understands what small business owners are going through, and the concerns they are dealing with, will be more effective when it comes time to help address those concerns,” says Marc Avaria, vice-president of group small business for Manulife Financial.

The report surveyed more than 1,000 small business owners across the country about the main challenges they face in managing and growing their companies, including attraction and retention. It explored six main themes: professional support network, employee productivity and focus, top talent retention, cost control, access to capital and revenue growth.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Six in 10 (58%) Canadian small business owners and managers offer a health benefits plan while another 27% have considered it.
  • While 58% of respondents report offering a health benefits plan, fewer provide or offer various types of retirement or other savings programs for their employees, such as profit sharing plans (25%), group RRSPs (20%), special executive plans (18%) or an employee pension plan (15%).
  • An overwhelming majority of small business owners (86%) feel an obligation to take care of the people who work for them.
  • More than one-third (36%) of Canadian small business owners and managers believe not being able to spend time on big-picture planning is a problem for them. Of those, 85% are looking for help.

Download a copy of the full report at

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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