May 25, 2021 by Jason Contant
More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a massive, “overnight” shift in employers’ appetite towards employee benefits plans, Hub International speakers said during a recent webinar.
“There’s a fast movement towards wellness, virtual services, virtual health and virtual counselling in this current environment,” Joanne Rose, a senior benefits consultant at Hub, said during the session, Work from Anywhere: Creating Inclusive Benefits in a Boundaryless Workplace. “The investment by employers in wellness and satisfaction for their employees has literally happened overnight.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about wellness over the last decade or two,” Rose said during Hub’s Resilient Summit last week. “But employers are really putting their money where their mouth is now.”
For example, there’s been a “big uptake” in employers providing new retirement plans for employees, Rose said. “For employers that may have resisted providing these plans in the past, we can’t put them in fast enough right now.”
Devon Forshner, associate vice president of employee benefits at Hub, agreed, saying he is also seeing a “strong interest from a growing number of employers on how they can focus their plans to be more prevention-focused versus the traditional reactionary…program.”
And proactive employers are digging into data analytics to bring an integrated view of their employee health to help inform their strategies, Forshner said. One major trend Hub is seeing involves virtual healthcare, which Forshner says is “certainly going to be a key delivery model here [in Canada] in the future.
“It’s been a game-changer since the onset of the pandemic,” he said. “I’m certainly seeing employers who are, perhaps — or were, perhaps — resistant to the idea of it in the past, and now see this as a key part [of their benefits programs] and how they can support their employees and their families virtually.”
Benefits programs also need to be reflective of the world today and the multi-generation workforce that exists, Forshner said, noting that, in some cases, employers have benefits programs that were designed and implemented 20 years ago.
Now that there are four generations in the workplace, demographics is one of the most important considerations when developing benefits programs, Rose said. “Employers need to ask their employees what their priorities are. When you look at these different generations, they have different priorities, so they need to develop those needs for those different groups.”
For example, Baby Boomers are 29% of the population in Canada right now. “They’re living longer, they’re healthier and they have most of the money,” Rose said. “We’ve seen an uptake in this [generation] for health plans, travel plans, wealth management and we’ve seen an increase in demand for personal line coverage for risk. As Boomers have a lot of stuff, they’ve got to insure it right.”
Employers are also looking to become more competitive in a post-pandemic world and seek competitive benefits packages, Rose reported. “And in some cases, they don’t have a physical presence in Canada. So, we’re making that connection between a virtual employer and employees that… live in our communities.
“Are you trying to help your employees settle into Canada? That’s one of the questions we’d like to ask,” Rose said. “And as a response to that, with one of our employers, we actually determined that we should put a new Hub marketplace into place for their employees because employees were unfamiliar with things like car insurance and how it works and that you get extra coverage through life insurance.
“So that’s an example of something that you can just plug employees into when they arrive here and they can get information right away that they need.”
Feature image via iStock.com/FatCamera