3M Canada’s long-term focus on helping employees “refresh, re-energize and feel well” secured the company a win at Benefits Canada’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Awards on Oct. 14.

The manufacturing company won in the Health/wellness program category for an employer with more than 1,000 employees for its ever-evolving comprehensive wellness program, called Empowering Healthy Living, that focuses on total health and enabling its employees to take positive, preventive action to improve their well-being.

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“I’m maybe a bit biased . . . but I think we provide some amazing programs for our employees,” says Jacqueline McLennan, benefits specialist at 3M Canada. “We have a health value proposition statement and it’s our driver behind what we do and that’s our mission and commitment to help our employees feel empowered by refreshing, re-energizing and feeling well.”

In support of that goal, 3M Canada’s program — which launched in 2013 — rests on three pillars: bringing health innovation to its employees; supporting employees to get healthier; and being proactive, not reactive. When the global coronavirus pandemic was declared, the company’s long-term commitment to overall employee wellness helped it quickly and proactively support staff. “We didn’t change [our offerings] substantially during the pandemic because we had such great tools already in place,” says McLennan.

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But in recognition of the link between financial and physical wellness during this tumultuous time, the company is offering employees a total of four hours of paid time off to get the coronavirus vaccines, as well as 80 hours of paid time off for employees who have to self-quarantine due to the pandemic. 3M Canada also continued its regular financial education program including free consultations with its insurer to assist with financial planning and retirement via virtual retirement planning sessions.

Employees who shifted to working from home were also able to obtain various equipment at the beginning of the pandemic, such as ergonomic chairs and extra computer monitors. And 3M Canada allowed employees to use wellness account credits to purchase home office equipment, in addition to a $250 home office stipend.

In addition, the company aims to ensure employees are empowered to take control of their overall health and wellness by offering a one-stop-shop virtual portal where staff can do a range of things, including tracking and earning points for healthy behaviours, setting and tracking personal goals and watching a collection of short videos about financial, mental and physical health.

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Offering this one-stop-shop has been very successful, with almost 60 per cent of employees using at least one of the tools on the portal, according to the award entry. The feedback from employees about the portal has been “really great,” says McLennan, adding it helps ensure staff can easily find the information they’re looking and are subsequently less likely to “get frustrated and then just say ‘forget it.’ ”

3M Canada also engages and informs employees about its many offerings by giving them credits to spend on benefits coverage or to deposit in their health-care spending account or wellness account when they complete a total health assessment before the annual benefits enrolment.

And finally, the company routinely analyzes a range of data points, such as employee polls and benefits usage numbers, to ensure staff are getting the right health and wellness offerings at the right time. As McLennan and her colleagues look ahead to a post-pandemic future, 3M Canada will continue to tweak its program to empower employees in 2022 and beyond, she adds.