As Canadian employees face rising inflation and interest rates, C.F. Crozier & Associates Inc. is helping ease employees’ financial worries by offering benefits that appeal to staff at every stage of their lives.
The time employees spend at work is just one stop along their personal and professional growth journey, says Nick Mocan, president of Crozier. If employers can help staff find success and wellness in both areas, he adds, employees will be more engaged and perform better at work.
Last year, the Ontario-based engineering consulting firm made headlines with its novel home buyer’s benefit that provides $20,000 to employees to use as a down payment on their first home. Crozier introduced the program to attract and retain younger workers; however, it’s not the only way the organization is showing its support for employees’ financial wellness.
For staff who are expanding their families, Crozier offers a parental leave benefit that tops up to 80 per cent of their salary for the first six months. In terms of long-term savings, the company redesigned its registered retirement savings plan offering, moving from a $2,000 maximum employer-sponsored contribution structure to a 100 per cent matching program when employees contribute up to four per cent.
Employers are offering up an array of financial wellness programs to support Canadian workers as they endure economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, says Kim Siddall, vice-president of enterprise consulting for the west at People Corporation, noting times like these can trigger a lot of anxiety among employees when it comes to their finances. “For some people, it may have exposed gaps in their financial strategy. They may not have had money set aside for emergencies or they were trying to help out other family members who weren’t earning for a period of time. The pandemic has played out differently for everyone.”
She recommends that financial wellness is a part of every employers’ comprehensive wellness strategy — without it, employees’ productivity, mental health, engagement and feelings of security can all be negatively affected. “If employees are stressed out about money, they may not be able to concentrate on their work and it can lead to absenteeism, presenteeism, as well as mental-health and physical health issues.”
While many employers won’t have the resources to go as far as Crozier, they may be able to assist employees with the cost of their commute, subsidies for vehicles and making tax-free savings accounts available to create more opportunities for employees to save, says Siddall.
Financial literacy and planning services are also in high demand among employers, with many providing these services through employee assistance programs. “Education on how stocks or debt work, for example, is important for younger employees who may not have had to think of these things before.”
To help employees manage inflation and rising interest rates, she suggests employers provide education on how these factors can impact employees. They can also take a closer look at salary increase policies to keep pace with inflation and rival employers looking to poach talent.
The start of a new year is a good time for employers to do a compensation study to ensure there are no gaps in their strategy, adds Siddall, noting many won’t want to lose financially stressed staff to competitors in the middle of a pandemic-fuelled labour shortage.