The study of nearly 200 benefits decision makers at Canadian companies with 20 to 999 employees, found that employers want to create and implement benefits programs that will attract, retain and compete for talent they need while managing costs. However, the lack of consensus from top management is holding back progress. Additionally, many HR professionals are moving toward a longer-term approach on strategic benefits planning to win senior management support for new benefits initiatives, including wellness and flexible benefits plans.
"Now with an increasingly young and diverse workforce, we are finding that most Canadian companies are looking at benefits as a strategic tool for attracting and retaining talent in a highly competitive market," said
Key insights from the study:
- Survey respondents reported difficulty getting support from upper management to introduce flexible benefits (24 percent), wellness programs (21 percent), new cost management strategies (20 percent) and changes to retirement plans (20 percent).
- Managing both sides of the benefits cost equation is worrisome to HR professionals, with 36 percent citing employee costs as a concern and 32 percent, employer costs. Still, 60 percent believe they have done all they reasonably can to control rising medical costs.
- Health and wellness were cited by 38 percent of respondents as the top priority, implemented as a means to boost employee morale (29 percent) and productivity (23 percent) and reduce turnover (22 percent).
- Flexible benefit plans are the most common strategy used to manage costs, with 19 percent of companies leveraging the tactic in 2017. However, only 12 percent who have implemented them have seen them measurably reduce benefits costs. This might be attributed to flawed design as some aspects of these plans can increase utilization, cost and administrative complexity if not designed optimally.
- Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents are taking 18 months or more to plan their benefits, which suggests that many are taking a longer-term approach to their benefits planning.
Earlier this year, HUB released the findings of its third annual
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