Controlling benefits costs a top concern for HR professionals

Controlling costs on both the employer and employee side of benefits plans is a top concern for human resources professionals, according to a new survey by Hub International Ltd.

The survey, which polled nearly 200 benefits decision-makers at Canadian organizations, found 36 per cent of respondents said employee costs are a concern and 32 per cent said employer costs are a concern. With that said, the majority (60 per cent) said they feel they’ve done all they can to control increasing medical costs.

Considering their top employee benefits priorities this year, 38 per cent of respondents cited improving health and wellness. This was followed by improving employee engagement and productivity (31 per cent), improving employee financial wellness (21 per cent) and meeting the diverse benefits needs of a multi-generational workforce (20 per cent).

Read: Rising cost of drugs, benefits plans top priorities for employers: survey

“Now with an increasingly young and diverse workforce, we are finding that most Canadian companies are looking at benefits as a strategic tool for attracting and retaining talent in a highly competitive market,” said Mike Barone, president of employee benefits at Hub International, in a press release “Benefits are becoming the most important differentiator for organizations. HR leaders need advisors to help tailor benefits to offer their employees choice and flexibility and move their organizations toward greater success.”

As far as methods for containing costs, 19 per cent of respondents cited flexible benefits plans. However, among those that have put these plans in place, only 12 per cent saw a marked reduction in costs.

The survey also found almost half (45 per cent) of respondents are taking 18 months or longer to plan their benefits, which Hub believes is a sign many organizations are taking a more long-term approach to their benefits planning.

Read: Younger employees want health benefits that meet their needs: survey

Lastly, respondents indicated some problems obtaining support from upper management for their benefits plans. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said they faced a lack of support when introducing flexible benefits plans. This was followed by wellness programs (21 per cent), new cost management strategies (20 per cent) and changes to retirement plans (20 per cent).