The Future is Flexible: Flex Benefits for Employee Wellness
A proper employee benefits program is a quintessential tool in helping to ensure employee health and well-being. As long as your employees utilize the program, it can help keep them healthy, happy, and focused at work. However, with the changing generations in the workforce – and the fact that millennials now comprise a majority of it – standard employee benefit programs need to change as well.
Younger staff are looking for flexible, digital offerings that let them get what they want out of a plan. They want solutions for support of their mental health and wellness. A recent survey indicated that only 53% of Canadians indicated that their mental health was good or very good; this is quite a drop from last year’s report of 67%. An easy solution is to provide an employee and family assistance program (EFAP). While counseling is at the core of an EFAP, it also has many other valuable mental health solutions for employees who are struggling.
A great way to combine the need for flexibility and for wellness is a flex account. A flex account is a pool of money that employees can direct to either a health or wellness spending account. A Health Spending Account (HSA) covers claims for health, dental and prescription drugs, and is regulated by Canada Revenue Agency. A wellness account, on the other hand, allows you the flexibility of letting your employees choose what they want covered.
Some of the most common wellness expenses are gym memberships and sports fees but vet bills and even home office furniture can qualify too. This can be of huge value to employees when at least two thirds of Canadian businesses have 60% of their staff working from home (and up to 55% of employees will continue to work remotely post-pandemic).
Digital telemedicine offerings are another way that you can offer flexible wellness solutions for your employees. Available through the telephone or through an app, telemedicine offers your employees the ability to connect with a physician or nurse practitioner 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Canadians are showing higher satisfaction rates when meeting with a doctor digitally and many are even saying that they prefer a digital meeting as a first visit.
Having a range of digital and flexible wellness options for your employees gives you not only a leg up on your competition for recruitment but also lets you take care of your employees’ physical and mental wellness. It’s an investment that for most employers, is well worth making.
Benefits Advisor, Wiegers Financial and Insurance Planning Services Ltd.
 Angus Reid Institute, “Isolation, Loneliness, and COVID-19: Pandemic Leads to Sharp Increase in Mental Health Challenges, Social Woes”, October 14, 2020, http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020.10.13_Social_Isolation.pdf
 The Conference Board of Canada, “Working Through COVID-19: Remote Work Support Survey”, June 29, 2020, https://www.conferenceboard.ca/focus-areas/human-resources/2020/working-through-covid-19/remote-work-support
 Canadian Medical Association, “Virtual Care is Real Care: National Poll Shows Canadians Are Overwhelmingly Satisfied With Virtual Care”, June 8, 2020, https://www.cma.ca/news/virtual-care-real-care-national-poll-shows-canadians-are-overwhelmingly-satisfied-virtual