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By integrating their benefits and pension plans, employers can fulfill their plan objectives while creating a better experience for plan members, said Christine van Staden, regional vice-president of group customer and national accounts at Canada Life Assurance Co., during Benefits Canada’s 2021 Benefits & Pension Summit.

“This is a trend we’re seeing more of in the market today. When we talk about integration, we tend to talk about the source that leads plan members to their digital online experience, where they can access their online benefits and retirement savings solution.”

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The point of access for users is among the considerations employers need to make when integrating plans. The most direct method is through a plan provider’s platform, allowing users to login to a single dashboard with access to their benefits and pension information, said van Staden.

In addition, she suggested employers consider the objectives of their plans, as well as the robustness of their retirement savings offerings. “Are you looking to maximize overall engagement across benefits and retirement savings plans? Is your focus on improving savings plan contributions? If you have more complex plans and a desire to maximize employee engagement and retirement savings, an integrated approach can certainly support these objectives.”

For plan sponsors, integration results in time and cost savings — as well as fewer meetings — through the consolidation of demographic and payroll files. Another advantage of integration is the option of having a single support team specializing in both benefits and pensions, noted van Staden. “Plan members receive holistically focused, overall wellness support without having to seek different individuals that specialize in benefits or retirement — they specialize in both.”

Read: Integrating data to show plan sponsors a full picture of claims patterns

And with plan members’ benefits and pension data collected in one place, employers can better evaluate the ongoing success of their program, she said. “Integrated data is even more powerful and allows for a deeper dive into member behaviour and data analytics, such as what solutions they’re using and the type of connections they’re making. Educational materials and training sessions can then be targeted based on these insights to maximize spend, relative to desired results and aligned with overall plan objectives.”