Canadian Underwriter

Employee benefits in the new era of work

April 19, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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About one-quarter of brokers say they are either likely or highly likely to leave the industry in the next three years, according to Canadian Underwriter’s National Broker Survey. One way to encourage brokers to stay would be to expand employee benefits and automate mental health tools, an insurance design agency says. 

Cake & Arrow’s recent report, Beyond Burnout, finds we are entering a new era — one in which employees are looking for a healthier relationship with their work — and provides ideas for how employee benefits can be reimagined to meet the needs of employees.  

“Employees want work to be an integrated, enriching part of their lives, balanced and in harmony with others — their families, their hobbies, their creative impulses, and their sense of self,” the report reads. “Employees are looking for their jobs to be more than a means of survival, but not their entire identity either.”  

High stress and low pay were among some of the reasons why brokers indicated they were considering a move sometime in next three years, per Canadian Underwriter’s survey responses.  

Benefits alone may not be enough to combat this, suggests Cake & Arrow. However, making benefits accessible and easy to use makes them more useful to employees and can reduce the mental load it takes to access them.  

“While many of the employees we spoke with may have access to an array of perks, benefits, and discounts through their employers, many found their benefits difficult to use, access, or understand,” the report reads. “Furthermore, some found the benefits election process burdensome and confusing, de-coupled from the context in which the benefits might be of value.”  

Cake & Arrow says employers should think about how to bolster existing infrastructure to give employees more ways to access their benefits.  

The report suggests benefits should be integrated into existing systems and infrastructure. By streamlining and easing the benefits process, employees can better access resources to help prevent burnout.  

The report offers a concept: “Imagine you recently received a raise and log into your payroll platform to see how it impacted your paycheck. You are met with an alert congratulating you on your raise and prompting you to increase your [company-sponsored retirement] contribution.” 

Further, Cake & Arrow says insurance and other benefits are often offered exclusively outside of the time they may be needed. They suggest employees may appreciate being offered benefits tailored and timed to align with their needs.  

For example, after employees submit a vacation request, Cake & Arrow notes companies could use employee data to offer discounted travel insurance.  

“Finding ways to use employee data to get smarter about how and when to serve up employee benefits will make opting into benefits easier and more obvious for employees, and will help them see the value of their benefits more clearly,” the report reads.  

Benefits alone don’t reduce employee workloads or burnout. Cake & Arrow also notes the onus should be on the company to reinforce employee work-life balance.  

The report suggests a solution: “Imagine you’re submitting your timesheets for the week. The system is alerted that you’ve been working overtime and suggests that you take some time off to recharge.”  

Outside of monetary compensation, the report found that employees valued company culture and people the highest, only second to a healthy work-life balance.  

“One of the most important things to employees at a job — up there with the salary and the work itself — had to do with the people and group dynamics within a workplace,” the report notes.  

There are ways to automate one-on-one time between team members when they begin to feel burnt out, Cake & Arrow offers.  

Companies can use digital tools to “take the temperature of the team” and automatically set up meetings when colleagues find they need a “tune up.” 

Finding ways to deliver benefits that not only meet the needs of individuals, but meet the needs of teams. And groups of people within the workplace can “transform the culture of work and meet the higher-order needs of employees,” says Cake & Arrow.  


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