How Canadians Employees and Employers Really Feel about Benefits Plans

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Ever wondered what employees really think about their benefits plans and wellness programs? An employee survey can provide a lot of insight. That’s why everyone is talking about the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey that was released in June. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the survey, which provides compelling findings based on responses from 1,500 plan members and 461 plan sponsors across Canada. Below are some of the major take-aways that we feel are worth highlighting.

Happier Employees Are More Satisfied with Benefits Plans

Numerous resources, experts and articles cite the advantages of a keeping employees happy and boosting company morale. But did you know that it can affect how your employees perceive a benefits plan? According to the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, 58% of people who are satisfied with their job say their benefit plan meets their needs extremely or very well, compared to just 39% among dissatisfied employees. (Read our article: How to Keep Employees Happy and Retention High

Comprehensive Drug Coverage Matters

Most benefits plans include drug coverage. And while we might assume that employees would place greater value on coverage for lower-cost everyday drugs versus more expensive infrequently used medications, the reality is that they value both, almost equally. Out of 1119 respondents, 46% preferred more coverage for lower-cost, commonly used drugs, and 54% said they prefer more coverage for higher-cost drugs used by fewer people.

Open Communication Can Help Keep Costs Down

One of the most interesting findings of this report was that fewer employees feel obligated to help control benefits plan costs. In 2008, 78% of respondents said they felt obligated versus 60% in 2017. There was also an increase in the number of employees who feel employers are more concerned about controlling costs than providing the best health benefits, from 51% in 2000 versus 68% in today.

These results suggest that it’s more important than ever before to keep the lines of communication with employees open. Being transparent about plan objectives, involving them in decision-making about the benefits plan, and even educating them on how to use the plan wisely can help to nurture a stronger sense of responsibility and appreciation. (Read our article: Tips on Keeping Employee Benefits Costs Down

Flex Plans Are Generally More Popular

At the time of the survey, 81% of plan sponsors said that they currently had traditional benefits plan. When asked about preference, 54% of plan members said they would prefer a flexible benefits plan, as did 45% of sponsors. While flex plans are still quite new to the benefits world, they are increasingly becoming more popular. That’s because a Flex Plan provides greater choice to each employee who can select their preferred benefits and level of coverage, while also helping employers stick to budgets.

Wellness Initiatives Should Remain a Priority

Remember the first point about keeping employees happy? Well, most happy employees work for companies who nurture an organizational culture focused on wellness. In fact, the survey reported that 86% of employees who felt their workplace encouraged health and wellness were also satisfied with their job. Unfortunately, the reality is that only one third of plan sponsors were looking to invest more in health and wellness in the next year. That’s a 37% drop from 2011. In a time when it’s evident how much a health-conscious culture can positively affect a business and its employees, wellness needs to remain a priority. (Read our article: The Wellness Culture and How It Can Lower Your Claims Costs

Employees Welcome Targeted Health Information

More plan members are open to receiving targeted health information, sent directly from insurers, based on their claims history. In fact, it’s a staggering 70% of employees. That’s up from 58% last year. Mostly, they are interested in getting information about how to better manage personal health conditions, general health and medications. 64% of plan sponsors agreed that this could be an interesting aspect of their plan design. There is an opportunity to help employees stay informed about their health, which simultaneously supports and fosters a more wellness-oriented culture.

What Now? Considering Your Benefits Strategy

While these results are insightful and shed light on a lot of current trends, it’s important to remember that every company is different. What works for one company might not work for another. A successful benefits plan is build around a solid strategy. Whether you’re implementing a new benefits plan or even making changes to an existing plan, it should align to support your bigger human resource and corporate objectives. While these are just some of the key take-aways that we found interesting in this year’s report, there were many more insightful results. Download the comprehensive report at report at

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