Employees expect more from their benefits
While more than ever, Canadian companies realize that a healthy workforce is more productive, there’s often a discrepancy between what employees expect from their health benefits and what these benefits actually offer. Different generations also have different expectations about their benefits.
These are some of the main findings from the 2014 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, which polled both plan sponsors and members.
The study reveals that millennial employees are more likely than their older co-workers to see benefits as a right. While 63% of baby boomers see health benefits as a perk or privilege, this sentiment falls to 50% among generation Y employees. Also, when offered the choice between $5,000 in cash a year or their health benefits plan, 45% of millennials would choose the cash, compared with just 25% of boomers. And 75% of gen Y employees want more flexibility in their health benefits plan, and the ability to choose what’s covered and how much is covered, compared with 66% of boomers.
The report also surveyed attitudes regarding postretirement benefits. Nearly half (48%) of benefits plan members expect to have access to their current benefits plan after retirement. However, only 23% of employers currently offer some kind of coverage or access to coverage after retirement.
Another disconnect between plan sponsors and members is around health screening. Most employees say they would participate in health risk screenings if their benefits plan offered them. Specifically, 91% would get tested for cancer, 89% for heart disease, 84% for diabetes and 75% for stress or mental health. However, only 35% of surveyed employers are likely to offer screening for mental health, 34% for heart disease, 34% for diabetes and just 24% for cancer.
The survey also examined the relationship between plan sponsors and providers. It found that sponsors particularly look to insurance companies for help. “On a scale of one to 10, plan sponsors rank insurers highest, at 7.6, in terms of expected level of support for wellness programs in the workplace, compared with 6.8 for healthcare providers and 6.2 for government,” the report notes.
And 79% of employers believe their insurance carriers should play a bigger role in helping them keep their workplaces healthy. “Since most carriers are already active, often through health education materials and online tools for plan members, the results suggest that plan sponsors may not be aware of their providers’ offerings, or they’re looking for something different,” according to the report.
The survey polled 1,502 primary holders of group health benefits plans as well as 500 benefits plan sponsors. — Yaldaz Sadakova
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Meet an Advisory Board Member
Duane Green, head of institutional – Canada, Franklin Templeton Investments
What attracted you to a career in the financial industry?
In my opinion, there isn’t a better industry than the financial industry to be a part of. I was fortunate to have been exposed to the industry early on by some great people who helped me see the potential in building a career in such a dynamic and robust environment.
What is the future of asset allocation for Canada’s institutional investors?
I feel institutional investors will look at ways to further diversify within asset classes and look at other types of vehicles in an effort to meet their risk/return objectives. I can’t help but think global fixed income will play a much bigger role in the future.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you invest the money in?
That’s a fun scenario to think through. I would want to look at ways to give back to worthy causes, invest in interesting startup opportunities or small businesses, and make sure I’ve planned for the future for my family.
This month in numbers
65% of North American employers that allow telecommuting report happier employees — 2014 survey by Staples
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