With one in five Canadians dealing with a mental illness or addiction,
there is a clear and immediate need for wellbeing benefits at
work. In order to provide the best wellness benefits, organizations
first have to be aware of what employees want from their benefits
plan. By using technology to collect and analyze benefits data,
employers can easily identify which benefits are used the most,
allowing them to prove ROI on their current approach or adjust
their program accordingly.
Every employee has individual needs that can vary greatly and
employers need to ensure they are catering to them. For example,
nearly 50 per cent of Canadians say that money worries cause
them extreme emotional distress and 40 per cent say it even
causes them to lose sleep. Employers could help alleviate some of
this by providing access to money management tools or financial
Offering “wellness pots,” where employees have an allowance to
spend on any activity that improves their overall wellness is a great
option to give employees more freedom and flexibility. Employee
Benefits Watch 2016/17 research shows that 51 per cent of
employees would like a wellness pot, yet only four per cent of organizations
are offering this as an option. Not giving employees the
flexibility to look after their own wellness is a missed opportunity
as employers that offer online wellness pots see an average 23 per
cent jump in employee engagement.
However, hard data can only tell so much. Conducting research
with employees to determine what wellbeing support they find
most useful gives organizations a reliable idea of what they actually
want. Analyst Josh Bersin notes that using people analytics
to identify what makes employees happy and what causes burnout
is becoming more popular in today’s workplace. For example,
one of the organizations he works with used smart badges to track
their employees for six months and found that the single greatest
contributor to employee happiness was “getting up and moving
around.” As a result, the company moved conference rooms, started
having walking meetings and moved the cafeteria and other public
spaces so people could spend more time walking.
By working to pinpoint areas where stress can be reduced, or
happiness levels lifted, employers can develop a positive work environment
that promotes mental wellbeing. Proactively addressing
negative impacts on mental wellbeing before they snowball into
larger issues is an important part of supporting overall wellness.
THE BIG PICTURE
Failing to provide easily accessible wellness benefits can lead to
problems much worse than a negative perception of the company.
Mental illness costs Canada approximately $51 billion a year. In
any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable
to work due to mental health problems and the cost of a disability
leave for a mental illness is roughly double the cost of leave due
to a physical illness. Making sure employees have the support they
need helps employers promote mental wellbeing, but it also helps
the bottom line.
Picking and choosing whether to support employees’ physical,
mental or financial health – or not – is no longer an option.
Different aspects of wellness do not exist in isolation. People
suffering from poor mental wellbeing have a higher risk of
developing long-term medical conditions. Companies that use
technology to help employees access the care they need and get
creative about improving the office work environment have the
power to increase not only job performance and the perception
of the business, but wellbeing overall; the payoffs for which cannot
be underestimated. n
Chris Bruce is the co-founder and managing director at Thomsons
health & wellness
sportactive / 123RF Stock Photo
PICKING AND CHOOSING WHETHER TO SUPPORT EMPLOYEES’ PHYSICAL,
MENTAL OR FINANCIAL HEALTH – OR NOT – IS NO LONGER AN OPTION.
28 ❚ JULY 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL