The face of a global workforce looks a lot different than many North American employers might have envisioned a decade ago. A host of influencers contribute to how the world's workforce looks today. Economic, social, technological and political forces shape the profile that characterizes human capital as we now know it.
If we peek inside companies today, we will see an older and more diverse population of workers who operate in an agile environment and who leverage technology in order to collaborate and stay connected.
Demographics shape the workforce and ageing will continue to have a profound impact between now and the year 2060. Declining birth rates affect the emerging talent pipeline and while there might be differences in the severity of decline, it exists in all parts of the globe. The loss of the baby boomer talent pool means that companies feel more pressure to fill their growing skills gap all while trying to juggle the transfer of knowledge from retiring workers.
Eliminating boundaries fuels mobility
The search for talent finds recruiters turning their attention to skilled workers in developing countries. Success with diverse recruits builds greater confidence and a belief that the country of worker origin doesn't need to limit accessibility to talent. In a recent *Randstad Sourceright Talent Trends Report, talent scarcity is said to have negatively affected 72 percent of the businesses of survey respondents. (*400 HR, talent and business leaders were surveyed)
Where boundaries to jobs once existed because of geographical restrictions, technology has opened a world market for jobs. Where workers reside matters far less than it ever did before. This trend will only continue to grow. Technology makes the face of the workforce a global one where workers are more easily able to move from company to company without having to leave their country of origin.
Freelance is the new black.
Increasingly, workers are opting for greater flexibility where independent contractors make up the fastest growing portion of the global workforce. Even what was previously considered the normal work week of 40 hours is changing. Due to a host of reasons including differing lifestyle needs, workers are open and more comfortable with non traditional work arrangements such as fixed-term contracts, casual and part-time. In addition, more workers are connecting with companies through recruitment agencies.
Benefits on a global scale.
The changes in the rise of a global workforce places different considerations on the definition of group benefit programs. Just as the face of the workplace evolves, employers will need to look at how well their benefit program fits the changing interests of their worker population.
Approximately 8 percent of the Canadian population lives and works in foreign countries. Whether a Canadian citizen working as an expatriate or a foreign citizen or inpatriate working in Canada, attention must be given to health care services and providers able to support the requirements of international plan members. While companies are learning more about the changing face of the global workforce, there is a lot involved in establishing and maintaining a dynamic benefit plan that meets the demand of workers in regions around the world.
At Arthur J. Gallagher, we help protect companies from regulatory and compliance risks while meeting the needs of an international workforce. We invite you to contact us to discuss your HR strategy to ensure it is structured to attract and retain top talent. We stay up to date on evolving benefits topics around the world and we are here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
March is known in Canada as Nutrition Month and organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietitians.ca are busy dialling up their annual campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of making informed food choices.
As employers look for new or different ways to improve engagement, workplace culture and productivity, it might be easy to overlook what employees are actually eating and how their daily food choices affect creativity, focus, energy levels, mood and overall well-being.
Nutrition contributes to a productive workday. In a journal shared on the site, Perspectives in Public Health, it was found that productivity increases by at least 2 percent when workers make healthier food choices and develop sound eating habits.
Employers looking to launch a worksite nutrition campaign can access free resources, videos, print-ready fact sheets, and presentations from the Dieticians.ca website.
Whether it be a lunchtime presentation or quick facts on a TV monitor or Intranet site, employers don't need to invest in expensive wellness campaigns in order to inform and educate. Positive messages reminding employees that making a few small changes or even one change a day will result in positive outcomes.
These tips can be as simple and reinforcing the importance of:
Create a nutritition savvy workplace.
Small changes in food choices can add up over time. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1/3 of North Americans are obese. The results of these finding show that there are growing incidents of diabetes and heart disease putting increased pressure on public health and private payers.
In an article published on the British Journal of Health Psychology website, the relationship between food and how it affects a person's daily experiences and mood is explored. Poor dietary habits are linked to fatigue, decreased mental effectiveness and ability to perform one's job effectively. Poor nutrition causes irritability, lower energy levels coupled with higher levels of stress and depression.
When the brain isn't nourished.
As employers are looking to understand why extended health costs are increasingly related to mental health issues as well as higher rates of disability, a closer examination of the connection to dietary decisions may be warranted. Eating processed foods not only results in mild irritability, but over time, the risk of depression and anxiety increases. Healthy food choices help to nourish the brain and fuel creativity and productivity.
In essence, every forkful of food not only affects how a person's body functions, but how the mind functions as well. Making healthy food choices can improve the ability to concentrate and solve problems more effectively.
Beyond helping employees manage time effectively and wrestle down growing project lists and unread email, the importance of nutrition and its connection to worker productivity and well-being shouldn't be overlooked. Contact us to learn more about our approach to healthcare analytics and how they can help you more effectively manage the cost of your benefits program and ensure you're getting the right results. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
While it remains illegal without a prescription, marijuana has been legal in Canada for medical purposes since 2001.
Back in 2014, I wrote about the risks of medical marijuana use in the workplace. At that time, I addressed the duty to accommodate as it is required by both provincial and federal human rights legislation.
Duty to Accommodate.
While the duty to accommodate is not limitless, a prescription for medical marijuana doesn't:
- entitle an employee to be impaired at work;
- entitle him to compromise his/her safety or the safety of others;
- entitle him to smoke in the workplace;
- or to allow excuses for absenteeism.
The duty to accommodate employees prescribed medical marijuana should mirror how any other disabled employee who has been prescribed medication is to be treated.
Just as with another disabled employee who requires accommodation, the employer must consider measures that may involve moving the employee out of a safety-sensitive position, providing more frequent breaks, altering the employee's duties and possibly providing more frequent breaks or a private space to administer his/her medication.
Revisit workplace policies.
Medical marijuana can be used to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, depression and more. As a result, more physicians will likely prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. What may not be well understood is that there are several strains of marijuana that have limited or no psychoactive effect. Regardless, employers will be tasked with the implications of marijuana use in the workplace. Now may be a good time to revisit workplace policies while paying particular attention to drug and alcohol use and the consequences associated with impairment at work as well as fitness for duty. In so doing, it will be helpful to involve health and safety committees, unions and other key stakeholders in the policy review process.
Revising policies might not necessitate a complete overhaul, but rather a closer look at whether the current wording might contravene the duty to accommodate when held up against the lens of a worker who has been prescribed medical marijuana. This may require a revision to a smoke-free worksite policy. It may also require allowing an employee more frequent breaks, having a safe and secure place for the employee to lock away his medical marijuana and designating locations where the employee can take his medication out of public view.
If there is any doubt or concern about existing policy wording or suggested changes, it is advisable to seek legal guidance and clarification. Once the policy has been approved, employees need to have the policy communicated to them and front-line supervisors need to be trained on medical and non-medical use of marijuana in the workplace.
Depending on the industry, different implications might influence the interpretation of such policies. For example, there might be more stringent outcomes for a manufacturing company where heavy machinery is operated than for a tech startup or professional consulting firm. The test is to determine if the medication alters the employee's judgement or makes the workplace at risk of being unsafe.
Substance abuse is costly.
Back in 2006 when the latest data was available, the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse reported a $40 billion price tag to the Canadian economy due to substance abuse. With greater frequency, companies from every industry are looking to establish policies that help them keep productivity goals in their line of sight while ensuring a safe work environment.
Seek medical documentation.
Employers are able to seek medical documentation to ensure their employees are able to safely carry out their duties. If it is determined that there is a meaningful impairment, whether due to medically prescribed marijuana or any other prescribed medication, the employer has the opportunity to carefully assess the situation.
Employers aren't obligated to allow employees to carry out their jobs while impaired. They may ask employees to complete workplace accommodation forms and secure information about the condition that requires medically prescribed marijuana as well as the dosage and if the employee needs to take the medication while at work. Employers may want to look at *testing for impairment and testing methods that show an arms length approach via an independent medical examination (IME). *At present, Canadian Human Rights law doesn't allow pre-employment or random drug or alcohol testing for impairment.
Addressing pre-existing notions.
The challenge with an employer's readiness to accommodate might perhaps be related to the stigma or pre-existing notions associated with marijuana and 'getting high' at work. As time progresses, employers will face the implementations of their actions and those of their employees regarding the issue of medical marijuana usage in the workplace. It may create more litigious situations based on the interpretation of discrimination and the duty to accommodate.
Insurers and service providers are now being asked to cover medically prescribed marijuana just as they would other physician prescribed medication for their patients. Some insurers, but not all, have chosen to cover marijuana prescriptions.
As the interpretation of what is covered continues and while uncertainties exist regarding medical marijuana in the workplace, we are here to offer our insights regarding these and other HR and benefits-related issues. We invite you to 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.