Any employer focused on attracting and retaining great people understands the importance of providing a competitive benefits program that supports employees through all stages of their health and well-being.

The Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan’s annual Canadian employer pension survey found a growing number of businesses are opting to improve benefits as a means to attract staff (34 per cent, up from 29 per cent in 2022). According to the survey, employers’ greatest concern in the coming year is increased competition for talent, followed by employee burnout and high turnover.

Read: 2022 BPS coverage: Plan sponsors should be bold with benefits plan design amid ‘Great Resignation’

While it’s easy to recognize the need for a competitive benefits package, it’s harder to identify and assess potential opportunities for program changes. A thorough and thoughtful review of existing benefits offerings is crucial when looking to design a program that addresses true employee needs. It’s important this is done regularly and takes a close look at utilization data and feedback from employees — past, present, and future — to help gauge their views on both the benefits they have and what gaps might exist.

An equitable, diverse and inclusive perspective is crucial for understanding the distinct needs of employees when designing a benefits program.

The HOOPP’s annual review process collects and reviews aggregate reports on how employees are using benefits. This provides a good understanding of the general health ‘story’ of the workforce. The HOOPP also hosts focus groups with members of its employee resource groups to ensure the information is viewed through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. In addition, exit surveys of departing staff and feedback from the recruitment team provide more insights into what employees expect in a top-tier benefits package.

Read: How employers are using data to integrate DEI into their benefits plans

In recent years, the organization has made the following benefits enhancements:

  • Gender affirmation benefits
  • Fertility treatment benefits and fertility drug benefits
  • Pregnancy and parental leave top-up of 93 per cent for up to 26 weeks, including 12 weeks of top-up for a non-birthing parent
  • Expanded contraception coverage and added coverage for sexual dysfunction drugs

A quality benefits package can be effective in addressing many issues, but doing the research to ensure it’s tailored to employees, both existing and prospective, is key.

Elena Palumbo-Sergnese is the senior vice-president of human resources at the HOOPP.

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