Anyone interested in the activity of mountain climbing knows that a successful mountaineer doesn't just wake up one morning and decide to climb the same day. It requires doing research, assessing your mental strength, getting fit, acquiring the right gear, preparing for the trip and getting a good guide to help you successfully navigate your climb.
Working with Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc. provides our clients with an abundance of relevant, timely, industry-related data needed to make well-informed HR, benefits and compensation decisions.
From January to March 2017, Gallagher surveyed 400 Canadian organizations in order to highlight how industry trends, the use of data integration as well as strategic planning help make organizations known for being a destination employer or a company at the top of its game. A similar survey was conducted in the U.S. with over 4,000 participating organizations. The results from both reports reveal valuable insights that companies are looking for in order to make smart, informed benefit decisions necessary for today's diverse and multi-generational workforce.
Those seeking to successfully reach the summit understand the value of using a Sherpa, or an elite mountaineer and highly skillful guide who is good at dealing with extreme altitudes. Working with a trusted advisor is akin to engaging your very own Sherpa, someone who has access to and helps you use relevant data wisely. A trusted advisor knows the industry terrain and can help you analyze the right data needed to design a holistic strategy. Making the right choice in terms of who you work with as a guide might prove to be the difference between reaching your HR, benefits and compensation goals or falling short.
Just as mountain climbing isn't something one does in isolation, taking a holistic approach to mapping out a strategic, measurable and customized plan is the game-changer for organizations looking to attract and retain the best talent. They understand that data can be effectively used to guide their ascent and that it can help them reach productivity and engagement goals targeted at surpassing even their toughest competition.
We're excited about the tools and resources we have at our fingertips. We're ready to put them to work for you. We know how to leverage industry data as well as information you have available in order to:
1) Assess the terrain and determine your state of readiness, your pain points and the distance from where you are today versus your goal;
2) Map out the path using data to navigate the best route from base camp to the summit. We'll work with you to build a plan tailored to meet your goals and based on an assessment of your organizational data as well as industry trends and insights;
3) Climb, while taking attainable and measurable steps, in clear pursuit of your goals. Whether your target involves changes to benefit plan design or enhancing employee retirement readiness, we have the data, tools and proven strategic approach to successfully guide and support your efforts.
You're not in this alone. We want to be there to help so that you can focus on what you do best. Contact us to learn more about our approach to data integration and strategic HR, benefits and compensation planning or to discuss the 2017 CNBS Executive Summary & Strategic Insights report.
Just as with the arrival of each new season, an annual deadline looms for any Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions to be allocated toward the previous year's income.
And the deadline is...March 1, 2018
This year, the deadline falls on March 1, 2018. It is difficult not to be reminded of this important date as banks, insurance, trust companies, financial advisors, and lending institutions have their RRSP contribution campaigns in full swing. Long before the start of the new year, many savvy employers launched savings campaigns to remind their employees of the many reasons to save for retirement and the benefits of contributing to an RRSP.
Communicate well, plainly and often.
The ultimate RRSP contribution message is two-fold: save early and regularly for retirement and in so doing, lower your taxes for the previous year.
Most, if not all of us, appreciate timely reminders to know when to take action regarding an important deadline. It's human nature to believe we have more time to do something than is true in actuality. The term 'time flies" is never more relevant than when the RRSP deadline approaches. Just after paying off December's credit card bills, we're faced with the reality of not making regular contributions toward saving for retirement because we thought we had more time.
Examples, images, videos with testimonials provide stronger and clearer methods for communicating the key savings message and RRSP contribution call to action. Hearing from one's trusted colleagues likely holds more credibility than a recommendation made from a high ranking senior leader who works in another part of the country and who most junior employees have never spoken to or who probably will never meet.
Need to Know Info.
- What the contribution limit is. For the 2017 tax year, the RRSP limit is the lesser of 18% of one's 2017 gross income or $26,010.
- Employees need to know how to find out their available RRSP contribution room by checking their notice of assessment and that this can be done easily by logging into the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) account or by contacting the CRA.
- They also need to know that unused contribution room carries forward unless the maximum deposit is made every year.
- The big no-no is taking out any funds from one's RRSP early. It means that tax must be paid on the full amount taken out and worse, that RRSP contribution is lost except when a) paying into the Home Buyers' Plan for a first home and b) to help pay for post-secondary education - Lifelong Learning Plan.
- Understanding the value and difference of a Spousal RRSP is important too. Knowing who can contribute and when it is best to do so as well as who owns the RRSP and who is responsible for designating a beneficiary when it is a Spousal RRSP (It is the spouse who owns it and who names a beneficiary). These tips and more can and should be communicated.
Driving at intrinsic motivation.
The idea is not to make figuring out what to contribute to one's RRSP a mad dash on the day before the deadline. Helping employees visualize what saving now can do to build freedom and choice in their future, is a worthwhile undertaking.
There are fun ways to "do the math" and illustrate the impact of what a savings delay of 5, 10 or even 15 years could mean to an employee's potential nest egg. Conversely, empowering employees to see that the success of their financial future is well within their grasp. There are so many creative ways to depict the power of saving early through the magic multiplier of compound interest, investing early and deferring taxes for a time when one's income is reduced.
Ultimately, an ideal and easy approach for RRSP contributions is to let automatic regular deposits take the pain out of making a savings transaction happen. When an RRSP contribution comes right off an employee's pay, the employer can reduce the income tax coming off the employee's pay too. While the tax advantages may appear obvious, they still warrant being regularly communicated.
With over 30 years industry experience, we've worked with employers of every size to implement savings programs and communicate key messages that make saving for the future a priority not to be postponed.
Brimming with pro tips, we invite you to contact us. Let's talk about ways to optimize your employee saving campaigns, now, and throughout the year. As always, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Work-related stress takes a toll on company culture and employee engagement. Employers know that unaddressed and prolonged stress leads to increased incidents of employee mental health issues, absenteeism along with dips in productivity and morale. With 1 in 5 Canadians experiencing mental health issues and 30% of short and long-term disability claims resulting from mental illness, more employers are turning their attention to alternate approaches. Top trends in health and wellness best practices include mindfulness-based activities.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness, sometimes associated with meditation and anchored in Buddhists teaching, focuses on the intentional conscious awareness of the present moment. Meditation classes and breathing exercises are designed to help employees avoid burnout, enhance coping skills, greater emotional resilience as well as self awareness of mental health triggers that might lead to anxiety or depression.
Companies are starting to engage mindfulness practitioners to lead employees in ways to practice controlled breathing exercises that help lower blood pressure and improve heart rate.
Time to switch off.
While technology is designed to help people free up more time for themselves, often the opposite is the result. Employees continue to search for ways to achieve greater work-life balance or web-life balance. Feeling constantly connected to technology through smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices, the need to find ways to unplug and let go of accumulated stress and information has become more important than ever.
Mindfulness versus Meditation.
Mindfulness is more about living in the moment and while meditation can be included in a mindfulness practice, it isn't a requirement. More specifically, meditation is the ability to quiet the mind through the silent repetition of a mantra or sound to reach a place of stillness or a gap between one's thoughts.
Mental health training.
Mindfulness, akin to mental health training, can be practiced anywhere. Since a person can think anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day, the mind is busy thinking a thought every 49 seconds or so with the majority of those thoughts not being centred on the present moment.
A rest for one's brain.
Enabling employees to develop a mindfulness practice facilitates greater ability to be aware of staying in the present moment and knowing when ruminating and unhealthy thoughts take over. Staying present also allows for greater concentration and the ability to limit or avoid unnecessary distractions.
A study in mindfulness creates a workplace call to action for employers looking to help their employees set aside outside worries, focus on the present moment, and relax. The more skilled a person is at developing self awareness, the greater the ability to enhance their emotional intelligence and step into high levels of emotional self regulation -- traits highly desirable for senior level leadership.
An "always-on" life needs time to reset in the present moment and take deep breaths. Employers are drawn to the fact that mindfulness practices are easy to implement, don't require an investment in equipment or other costly resources. While the mindfulness movement remains relatively new in the workplace, its eastern origins are thousands of years the making and are proving to generate positive results for organizations.
An addition to wellness programs.
Employers looking to help counter-act the effects of prolonged stress for their workers are turning to mindfulness as a sustained approach to promoting one's overall well-being. In time, mindfulness exercises and apps might become a welcome addition to corporate wellness programs in need of a refresh or kickstart.
To learn more about mindfulness in the workplace and what additional resources and apps are available, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.