Wellness programs are becoming more commonplace within organizations of all sizes. What has shifted in the last year or so involves a greater emphasis on financial wellness and the connection to productivity and ROI. As a result of employee feedback, EAP usage reports and HR data, employers feel the need to take a broader interest in the importance of employees' overall well-being, which includes their financial literacy.
Recent studies demonstrate that when an employee feels financially fit, (s)he experiences less stress, is more engaged at work and therefore more productive. Financial institutions in Canada like Manulife have created a Financial Wellness Benchmark survey to gain a greater pulse on the importance of financial fitness in the workplace and the impact of working with a financial advisor. What are they finding? Nearly half of Canadians with a low level of financial wellness feel distracted at work because of financial worries. In the US, The Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2016 Workplace Benefits Report indicates that employers of all sizes believe workplace financial programs improve the bottom line because employees were more productive, engaged, loyal and satisfied.
With more pressure placed on employers to educate employees aside from job-related training needs, it can seem like an unwelcome demand that doesn't squarely fall within the employer's obligation. With results showing that productivity is compromised when employees have financial worries, it has; however, become an important workplace consideration.
For employers who have an existing wellness program, adding in a financial literacy component can be as simple as offering lunch 'n learns at both ends of the demographic spectrum:
1) For Millennials and more: "The basics" -- like how to budget, debt management and savings. A fitness education session or lunch 'n learn doesn't have to be focused on retirement. Savings is important to all generational workplace cohorts.
2) For Baby Boomers and late Gen Xers: "Decumulation and retirement readiness". Engage a financial advisor to hold specific sessions targeted at those within 5 to 10 years of retirement to help to address the key areas to help them feel prepared for the next stage post full-time employment.
Beyond these tactics, consideration should be given to a variety of non-traditional and voluntary products with a financial focus including: financial counselling services, employee purchase programs through payroll deductions and tuition assistance programs. These programs can be a service offered to employees and paid by them as well. It is a great way to add to your wellness program lineup without negatively impacting your bottom line. It also makes for a great story to share when actively recruiting or looking to enhance employee engagement levels.
For more information about financial wellness or offering voluntary benefits, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
There are new obligations for Ontario employers coming this September which are sure to keep many Human Resources professionals busy in the coming weeks creating or updating their company's anti-sexual harassment policy.
Why? As of March 8, 2016, Bill 132 received Royal Assent at the legislative Assembly of Ontario making it clear that sexual harassment is a workplace safety issue. As there have been an increasing number of high profile sexual harassment cases in the media in the last 12 months, it is no wonder that the Ontario Government has pushed their sexual violence and harassment action plan through the political engine at such an expedited pace. One of the biggest changes is that the Act amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and requires employers to take action at the beginning of September.
* Bill 132 expands on Bill 168 (introduced in 2010 -- obligating employers to create workplace violence and harassment polices and programs to protect workers.) Bill 132 protects workers from sexual harassment in that the definition has been broadened to include "workplace sexual harassment".
The definition reads:
"engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in the workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; or
making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome."
Here's the quick run down of what employers with 5 or more employers need to ensure is in place by September 8, 2016:
* Someone in the organization needs to receive training on investigating workplace harassment complaints;
* All supervisors need to be trained on workplace harassment so they can identify "incidents and complaints" of workplace harassment or the Ministry of Labour may be in a position to order an investigation by an outside investigator at the company's expense;
* the organization needs to prepare a policy specifically addressing investigations and related procedures to comply with Bill 132 or they need to amend their current policy to do so. Of particular note, the investigator's mandate must be clear and determined upfront given the results of the investigation must be disclosed to the person who has been allegedly harassed.
* Employers will now be obligated to develop a written program to respond to issues of harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. If they already have a program and policy in place, they need to review it at least annually. The program must include the following:
1) measurers for reporting incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer/supervisor if the employer/supervisor is the alleged harasser;
2) detail how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and handled;
3) detail how information about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment won't be disclosed;
4) detail how the alleged victim and harasser (if a worker) will be informed of the investigation results and any corrective action arising from the investigation;
Of note, the Ontario Ministry of Labour's inspectors will now have the power to order an employer to use a third party to investigate a workplace harassment incident and to issue a written report at the employer's expense.
Our team will continue to monitor Bill 132 in light of any further guidelines. For more information, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Environment awareness days recognized in the workplace help to create positive internal engagement, company pride and a sense of shared ownership. Did you know that June 5-11 marks our Canadian Environment Week and that it coincides with World Environment Day (WED)? WED preserves the goal of raising global awareness by inviting world citizens to take positive environmental action to protect nature and planet Earth.
WED is run by the UN Environment Programme or UNEP. In recent years, WED has become increasingly recognized in the business world where corporations create the link between the well-being of their human resources and the functioning of the economy as tied to responsible management of the planet’s natural resources.
Corporate recognition of World Environment Day (June 5) and Clean Air Day (June 8) provide companies with opportunities to reinforce their social responsibility programs, improve their brand position, attract potential new customers and dial up employee engagement. More companies are doing the “demographic math” and figuring out that within the next 10 years, the Millennial cohort (those born between 1980-2000) will be the top dogs in terms of their numbers and influence in the workforce. Already they have outnumbered baby boomers and therefore, what concerns them is of interest to their employers. Millennials care about society and the environment. They want their employer and others like them to take a stand, make a difference, and walk the social responsibility talk.
In a 2009 Hewitt study, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was rated as a factor affecting employee engagement. The connection for employers — the more engaged they are, the more they will say positive things about the company and strive to go above and beyond what is expecting in their day to day role. Engagement drives up productivity, profit (ROI) and employee retention.
Looking to the global calendar for days like WED and Clean Air Day help companies anchor their sustainability messages in tangible ways. Promoting corporate social responsibility in the workplace can be as simple or as complex as an employer wishes.
Here are several suggestions that can be implemented easily with attainable and realistic calls to actions:
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.