Majority of benefits plan members agree workplace culture encourages wellness: survey

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadian benefits plan members agree their workplace culture or environment encourages health and wellness, according to the 2020 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

“We want to maintain and build on that,” said Andrea Frankel, national private payer lead at Sanofi Canada, during a webinar highlighting the annual survey on Thursday. “For the first time this year, we asked what comprises a wellness culture in their own workplace, based on a list of 13 possible factors. The top three factors are safety, good relationships with co-workers and a good relationship with the immediate supervisor.”

Indeed, plan sponsors and members were mostly aligned on how their workplaces encourage wellness. A safe work environment came out on top for both plan members (55 per cent) and plan sponsors (67 per cent), followed by good relationships with co-workers (54 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively) and immediate supervisors or managers (44 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively).

Read: Fewer workplace cultures encouraging health and wellness: Sanofi survey

“One thing to highlight is that, although both groups were aligned in their rankings, plan members were less likely to indicate certain factors were evident in their workplace,” noted Frankel. “For example, when we look at reasonable workloads, 54 per cent of plan sponsors indicated that reasonable workloads contributed to their wellness culture, whereas only 39 per cent of plan members said the same about reasonable workloads.”

Other perception gaps between plan members and sponsors were human resources policies around vacation and paid days off (42 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively), a relaxed atmosphere (30 per cent and 48 per cent) and flexible-working arrangements (30 per cent and 41 per cent). The survey also noted a knowledge gap where working from home was concerned. While 40 per cent of employers said they allow their employees to work from home, just 26 per cent of plan members said their employers offer the option.

Among plan sponsors, 88 per cent said they have a wellness culture. Those employers were more likely to invest in wellness areas outside of health benefits, such as personal financial planning (78 per cent versus 54 per cent for employers without a wellness culture) and to have specific objectives for their health benefits plan (64 per cent versus 36 per cent).

Read: 75% of global workers feel employers are looking after their well-being during coronavirus

The survey also found that 50 per cent of plan members who said their workplace has a wellness culture described their personal health as excellent or very good, 90 per cent said they’re satisfied with their job and 74 per cent rated the quality of their health benefits plan as excellent or good.

In comparison, among plan members who don’t believe their workplace has a wellness culture, just 38 per cent felt their health was excellent or very good, 61 per cent said they’re satisfied with their job and 48 per cent rated their benefits plan as excellent or good.

The vast majority (86 per cent) of surveyed plan members also said a workplace environment that encourages health and wellness is an important factor when they’re deciding on a job offer or choosing to remain at their company. Of that group, 29 per cent said they strongly agree with that statement.

“The message is clear that the high marks go to workplaces with a positive wellness culture,” said Shannon Darvill, group benefits consultant at Silverberg Group and a member of the Sanofi Canada advisory board. “All stakeholders — plan sponsors, insurance carriers and consultants — can really build on that together. And for employers who don’t have a wellness culture — yet — we can make it a goal to bring them onside, one small step at a time.”

Read: Canadian workers want vacation, benefits plans and to work from home: survey

Going forward, 74 per cent of plan sponsors said they plan to dedicate funding or staff resources outside of the benefits plan to at least one of five health and wellness areas over the next three years. Employers were most likely to say they plan to support emotional and mental health (58 per cent), followed by illness prevention and chronic disease management (49 per cent), physical fitness (45 per cent), social well-being (44 per cent) and financial well-being (40 per cent).

Among employers that said they intend to invest in these areas in the next three years, 89 per cent had a specific objective for their health benefits plan in the coming year, 88 per cent had 500 or more employees and 84 per cent said they receive analyses of the top disease states in their workforce.