(This post is about a 4-minute read)
This years’ Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey showed that benefit plan sponsors are dealing with many different types of challenges as they try their best to deliver high-value programs to their employees. Sponsors are on the lookout for low-cost, low-effort solutions where they can realize big returns; improving productivity, morale, and overall focus within their organizations. Backed by numerous scientific studies, and emerging as more mainstream in North American culture, mindfulness is a highly credible practice that workplaces can embrace to see profoundly positive rewards.
Wellness program fatigue
In recent years, the focus may have been on expanding or promoting services within the scope of formalized wellness programs. Various forms of discussion-based therapy, nutritional counselling, and exercise would have been touted as essentials to help an employee smooth the edges of life’s rough patches. While these are valid, proven, and practical, the Sanofi report revealed that engagement in these kinds of offerings was plateauing. It argued that it was time to put the brakes on trying to bring in more wellness bells and whistles.
Create a shift in culture
A better approach would focus on looking at the underlying beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, and behaviours that form the backbone of a company’s culture and introduce programming that would support the creation of a healthier, more pleasant environment that’s supportive and minimizes stressors. This is where mindfulness is quietly showing its strengths. Mindfulness programs that are endorsed by employers and work to normalize meditation and deep breathing techniques – two hallmarks of a mindfulness practice -- are seeing astounding results with a trifecta of positive physical, emotional, and psychological changes.
Start small. Share. Support
So how can an organization start down the path of incorporating mindfulness into their culture? It’s easy if they consider one of the fundamentals of mindfulness itself: paying attention to the present time and place. Start small and gauge interest, finding people who have already developed a personal practice and who are more than willing to share their knowledge as advocates. They will help introduce and model the principles. The potential for grassroots involvement is big if it has the right support from leaders and influencers within your company.
Introduce focussed and balanced breathing exercises at the beginning or end of team meetings. Share the science and results. Create space by inviting people to attend a short, five-minute group meditation session, at least once a day. Make work a safe place for people to recognize the need for balance and help them achieve it.
What are the gains?
When someone is mindful, they become more keenly aware of how they choose to interact with the world. They develop a better sense of how they process information. More importantly, they learn how they react to different sources of stress. Mindfulness gives them a chance to observe the direction that they naturally lean to when responding to situations. And consequently, they can make more thoughtful, conscious choices. This kind of insight comes with practice, and of course, a strong personal commitment.
When a business creates space within their culture to support mindfulness, they gain employees who feel more in control of their personal well-being. They will start to see reductions in interpersonal conflict because of reduced stress, increased empathy and higher degrees of emotional intelligence. Creativity, community and loyalty flourish. As the employee population becomes healthier all around from the shift in support of mindfulness in the workplace, these positives and others will begin to show up as better outcomes for benefits programs
Connect with usif you would like to discuss mindfulness at work or any other topic. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
With December almost behind us, it will soon be time to step into the new year. January offers a fresh start and the opportunity to revisit your current group benefit plan design.
With over 30 years industry experience, I've seen a myriad of benefit plans in my day. This knowledge gives me the insight to ask key questions and because I keep a close eye on industry trends, legislative changes and different service provider/insurer product offerings, I'm able to ensure my clients have a plan design that optimizes their specific requirements.
Through the years, I've had a number of different requests related to benefit plan design, but the most common themes shared with me include --
- "It needs to be valued by our employees";
- "It needs to compare favourably to the competition";
- "It needs to provide just the right amount of coverage so that employees aren't over or under-covered".
- "It needs to help attract and retain talent."
Making sure that the benefit plan remains relevant and valued requires regular attention. Plan design models that were in vogue in the 1980s might not have the same impact for today's workforce. Advancements in technology, immigration and globalization have altered how we do business and how employees look at their benefits package.
Questions to have answered.
As you begin your benefit plan design review, consider these comprehensive questions:
- What is your benefits philosophy?
- Can you easily identify and communicate your top short and longer-term goals for the benefit plan?
- Do these benefit goals align and support the larger corporate objectives?
- Do you have a plan and method in place for analyzing your workforce demographics? Knowing the percentage make-up of your workplace cohorts as well as their current and future needs will provide insights important to the benefit plan analysis.
- Is your existing plan design compliant with current provincial and/or federal legislation?
- What pending legislative changes do you need to consider?
- What do you know about your competition's benefit plan?
- How does your plan stack up against others in your industry?
- What are the results of the plan funding arrangement review?
- Has your organization significantly changed in size?
- Is the current funding arrangement still the right one for you?
- Do you have a traditional insured arrangement and wonder if your company is a good candidate for a self insured or a more flexible solution?
- What does your claims experience reveal?
- Are claims being over or under-utilized?
- What are the cost patterns and how does it compare to other employers in your industry?
- What cost containment strategies should you consider as a result?
Look to a trusted adviser.
Working with a trusted and experienced adviser can help you stretch your benefit dollar, maximize your plan's effectiveness and highlight applicable tax advantages. At Gallagher Benefit Services Inc., we can help you identify pockets that your current plan doesn't include or where your plan might be improved. Please contact us. Together we'll discuss your goals and navigate your next benefit plan design review. As always, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
There was a time not that long ago when diversity centered primarily around recognizing gender bias in the workplace including pay equity imbalances and a lack of female representation at senior leadership and board levels. While this issue hasn't been fully resolved and continues to garner attention, diversity and inclusivity (D&I) issues have expanded to include far more broad-reaching topics.
What does diversity and inclusivity cover?
Today diversity considers culture, nationality, gender, race, sexuality, education, socio-economic background and geographic background.
As the workforce faces more global pressures and competitive influences, the benefits of supporting diversity and inclusivity become more compelling. Employers who seek to support D&I understand that it also makes good business sense. Respecting different cultures, backgrounds and life experiences promotes open-minds, creative thinking, and new ideas that may lead to better business outcomes.
On June 19, 2017, the Canadian federal government amended the Canada Human Rights Act to expressly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of "gender identity and expression." This law applies to every Canadian province and territory except Yukon and Nunavut. Even in areas where it isn't the law, the courts reference it.
How can employers support D&I in practical ways?
1) Update or implement diversity policies.
Employer policies to review and update should include:
- dress code;
- gender diversity policy (outline transition guidelines for transgender employees)
- privacy and confidentiality;
- restroom use;
- hiring and recruitment procedures;
- harassment and anti-discrimination policies;
- employee orientation; and
- employee engagement survey questions.
2) Monitor the company culture and positively acknowledge employees that support diversity and inclusivity in the organization.
Supporting D&I requires both a top down and bottom up approach. It warrants ongoing communication efforts that don't simply pay lip service to supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace. Employees bring valuable insights from their cultural background as well as life experiences. These differences add value to an organization.
3) Educate and inform employees.
Education and information includes applying the platinum rule rather than the golden rule. Where the golden rule states that we should treat others how you want to be treated, the platinum rules states that we should treat others how they want to be treated. This means that we may inadvertently cause offence by not knowing personal or cultural boundaries. This could include how a handshake is perceived or how maintaining eye contact may be interpreted. Employees should be encouraged to ask if they are uncertain and apologize if an accidental offence occurs.
4) Provide a safe and confidential resource. Help employees understand how diversity impacts their role and what they can do to support the company's obligation and inclusive culture. Have a mechanism for employees who might have discomfort around some issues related to diversity -- an HR contact or EAP to speak with. Not everyone will embrace diversity in the same way and at the same time; however, compliance with employer's legal obligations must be adhered to as well as the policies that are in place to treat all employees equitably.
4) Benefits program plan design. Consider your company's benefits philosophy and what, if anything, needs to be changed.
Supporting D&I isn't about checking a box. It is about education, training and an appreciation for the equitable treatment of all. Tolerance takes time and policies should be revisited and updated as an organization continues its efforts to support diversity.
More resources on the topic as well as case studies continue to be make available. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Commission offers a Best Practices Checklist for employers to address practical ways to support gender diversity in the workplace. As this important topic continues to emerge and grow in significance, we invite you to contact us to discuss ways to ensure your benefits program meets your D&I criteria and legal obligations. We are well positioned to support you with our HR Global resources and decades of industry knowledge. As ever, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Along with ushering in fall and a new school year, September is an ideal month to revisit your company's benefits philosophy. Better yet, if you don't already have one, it is the perfect time to prepare a benefits philosophy.
What is a benefits philosophy?
It is your company's approach to how you make decisions about specific details related to benefits coverage. It outlines how a business chooses and provides benefits to employees.
So much is changing in the workforce and with greater speed than ever before. It has become increasingly challenging to keep up with the latest benefit trends, workforce demands, and recruiting efforts to attract and keep top talent. Ensuring that you are able to offer a competitive benefits package that meets your organization's goals is more important than ever.
Many employers have a documented vision and mission statement and some have taken further steps to identify a purpose statement. These statements guide the organization's goals, beliefs and desired behaviours. Employees are reminded of these statements as a way of fostering the company's sought after culture and conduct traits. It helps them understand why the company exists and the direction they're headed.
A benefits philosophy should align with the vision and mission statement. More specifically, it should ladder up to the company's compensation philosophy. A benefits philosophy is a formalized way of creating a vision and mission statement about benefits coverage.
Do you offer pet insurance? How much is too much coverage? Are you going to continue with or grandfather retiree benefits? What is your company's position on fertility drugs or the request to offer a group RRSP? All these questions and more should be easier to answer when a benefits philosophy is in place.
Why should you have a benefits philosophy?
No matter the size of your business, having the guiding principles outlined in a documented benefits philosophy helps with the myriad of decisions you may think you'll never need to consider. It also makes it easier to address plan design and cost considerations. When a benefits philosophy is firmly in place, it helps a company avoid reactive decisions that might seem self serving and generate negative employee perception and/or public opinion.
10 Questions to Consider
This list of questions is by no means complete, but should provide a basis for many of the questions a benefits philosophy may wish to address.
1) Who pays for coverage? Do employees pay for a portion or all of specific types of coverage?
2) Is our coverage out of step with key competitors?
3) Does our coverage meet the needs and wants of our employee population?
4) Should we offer the same coverage for all or create separate classes based on differentiation that matters to our workforce?
5) Do we offer benefits to care for the well-being of the employee and his/her eligible dependents? Does this include Long-term disability or critical illness benefits?
6) What is is our position on retiree benefits?
7) Do we offer a wellness program? EAP? Fitness subsidy? Employee discount program?
8) Are we concerned about the employee's financial health? Do we offer a company savings program?
9) How much should the benefits program influence productivity and employee engagement?
10) Does our benefits plan help to keep costs down? Do we offer a health care spending account or some form of employee cost-sharing?
Your benefits philosophy should help you answer key questions related to your benefits strategy and it needs to support your company's goals and values. Knowing the benefits coverage that makes your employee happier and keeps them productive and engaged can be influenced by what an employer chooses to offer. This offering should be guided by your benefits philosophy.
There are many questions to consider that really depend on your goals. With three decades of industry experience, our team is well positioned to help you create or revisit a benefits philosophy that is exactly right for you. We invite you to contact us because no matter the size of your company or type of industry you are in, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
In the world of benefits, certain issues tend to receive more attention than others. The big ticket items like prescription drugs and paramedical service expenditures tend to hog the cost management discussion limelight. Hiding in the background is a growing problem for both employees and employers -- eldercare. Statistics Canada predicts that our population will continue to age quickly until 2031 and this means that eldercare issues are likely to becomes a much greater concern. Unlike childcare, eldercare becomes more complex and the level of support required tends to increase over time.
What is eldercare?
It is unpaid assistance provided to a person 65 years of age or older because of a long-term health condition or physical limitation. For an employee who provides eldercare to an aging parent or loved one there are many issues facing them.
The issue for employees.
According to a report by CIBC Capital Markets, 30 per cent of workers with parents over age 65 lose 450 hours per year of time off to support eldercare needs. At present, more than 8 million Canadians are caregivers.
Eldercare support is provided in all kinds of ways.
Notably, more care is needed for those between the ages of 75 and 85. The predominant conditions caregivers face include:
Employees who provide eldercare may experience stress, anxiety and exhaustion. According to a Met Life study, 16% of respondents said they had to quit their jobs in order to meet the needs of elderly parents. Others said they passed up job promotions, training or career advancing opportunities. They used sick or vacation time to attend to eldercare issue. In so doing, less time or no time remained for self care or attending to their own needs.
The issue for employers.
According to a report by CIBC Capital Markets, 30 per cent of workers with parents over age 65 lose 450 hours per year of time off to support eldercare needs.
Employees providing eldercare experience more partial absenteeism. To accommodate the eldercare demands, they arrive late, take longer lunches, leave early and use time at work to talk on the phone with eldercare service providers and loved ones.
Eldercare costs employers. They face various challenges including
Small measures can make a huge difference.
To reduce and avoid the negative effects of eldercare issues in the workplace and to support employees who are tasked with providing eldercare, employers benefits from considering:
Eldercare and other issues affect worker well-being, productivity and potential benefit plan costs. There are importance preventative considerations for employers that we're well positioned to support. We invite you to contact us to learn more. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
It might come as no surprise that obesity rates in Canada are on the rise. What might be surprising is the rate of the increase. According to a study from Memorial University in St. John's, obesity rates have tripled, which represents a 200 per cent increase between 1985 and 2011. What's more, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) predicts that 21 per cent of Canadian adults will be obese by 2019.
In 2014, based on height and weight measurements, 20.2 per cent or 5.3 million Canadians aged 18 or older are classified as obese. According to Statistics Canada, almost two thirds of Canadian adults are considered overweight or obese and about 33% of children (ages 5 to 17) are considered overweight or obese.
What defines overweight and obese?
Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements are used to determine normal, overweight and obese classifications. Normal weight is represented by a BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9.
Overweight is a BMI range of 25 to 29.9 and obese is a BMI range of 30 or higher. (BMI is the measure of body fat based on height and weight.) In terms of the obesity spectrum, there are 3 classes: Class 1 is BMI 30 to 34.9, Class 2 is BMI 35 to 39.9 and Class 3 is BMI 40 or over.
In a report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology published in March 2016, they summarized the results of nearly 24 meetings where the committee heard expert testimony about the dramatic rise in overweight and obese Canadians. We are ranked 5th among 40 countries for obesity prevalence (measured at 25.4% of adults).
What is the cost of obesity?
Obesity is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and other conditions. As per the Associated Press, obesity costs Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually.
What is the employer's role?
While there are programs across the country analyzing and working toward solutions to stem the rapid rise in obesity, employers are faced with the challenge of controlling health care costs and modifying insurance-related programs. They continue to look for ways to motivate the growing number of overweight and obese employees in their attempts to help their workforce adopt healthier lifestyle practices. Sitting disease (inactivity) and poor diet, nutrition and lack of regular exercise continue to work against their efforts.
Observations and considerations.
Between age 18 and 65, Canadian adults spend much of their lives at work and so the value of an employer's role in health promotion can't be overlooked. Often, the size of employer dictates the comprehensive nature of their wellness program and weight management initiatives. Smaller employers, which represent the majority in Canada (under 500 employees) don't generally have the complexity, choice or robustness of the largest public and private employers where there is a more consistent emphasis on weight management and health promotion.
1) Environmental factors: Employers can work against themselves in their efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and weight management. Food choices in vending machines, dining and catering options and an absence of access to free filtered water may provide mixed or contradictory messages. Looking at what is offered in the workplace is helpful. Is there access to a company fitness centre or healthy dinners-to-go? Healthy on-site catering, open stairwells, treadmills, walking paths, break rooms for stretching and meditation offer consistent messages that reinforce healthier choices.
2) Culture of Health: Establishing a top-down leadership campaign with visible participation and clear communications about available health and wellness programs is important. Additionally, identifying formal and informal wellness champions to leverage the social environment in the workplace can have a strong influence on health promotion.
3) Family outreach: Employers can benefit from casting a wider net with their health promotion efforts to include family members and children. This is often achieved through targeted communications that can be read by the entire family and are written in plain language particularly when English isn't the primary language spoken in the home. When a family commits to supporting loved ones in their efforts to improve their health and weight management, success rates increase.
It's clear that we have an issue with obesity in our country. Employers carry an alarming portion of the financial burden related to it. By taking a more strategic approach to wellness programs and an analysis of claims experience, employee education that intrinsically motivates employees can provide positive results for weight management and obesity prevention. If you have questions about this topic or what can be done to better manage your benefits program, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Paramedical benefits have seen their fair share of usage in the last few decades. It is a bundle of benefits under regular scrutiny. Why? Because plan sponsors continue to experience increased costs associated with benefits like chiropractic, massage therapy, orthotics, orthopaedic shoes, nutritionists, dieticians, naturopaths, acupuncturists and more. According to Great-West Life, in 2013, paramedical services represented 19.3% per cent of healthcare claims.
Why the increase?
In the paramedical category, orthotics are prone to widespread fraud. There seems to be a constant, if not growing, interest in this benefit category. More plan members submit paramedical claims for orthotics than ever before. Is it a need, a sense of entitlement (use it or lose it) or something else? This is a question plan sponsors regularly explore.
Paramedical services, while designed to help treat issues, often times, also act in a preventative capacity. When plan members use these services, they may prevent a more serious illness or injury from occurring. So it helpful to keep usage in perspective, while still managing costs and protecting against fraud, waste and abuse.
Why the focus on orthotics?
Orthotics are a device that can be inserted into the shoe to support, align, prevent or correct foot deformities and improve foot function. The orthotic should be made for the person and fabricated from a 3D model or cast of the foot, which captures the foot alignment and shape.
What's the deal with custom-made?
In recent years, insurers and service providers changed their claim processing for orthotics and orthopaedic shoes. In an effort to ensure that benefits are accurately and appropriately paid, many providers ask for confirmation that the orthotic has been custom made and that the orthopaedic shoes are specially constructed for the patient. They stopped paying for brand name orthopaedic shoes that haven't been custom-fitted and for over-the-counter orthotic shoe inserts.
Contractually, the issue comes down to ensuring that claims utilization adheres to contract provisions rather than expansion upon services that don't fall within the intent of coverage.
Plan sponsors hope to avoid the sense of entitlement that comes from offering benefits such as paramedical services. They hope plan members recognize that submitting a paramedical claim whenever they want a new pair of shoes isn't appropriate.
- Plan members should seek a gait analysis or a biomechanical assessment after a recommendation or referral from a medical doctor has been made.
- Once the orthotics or orthopaedic shoes are custom made, a detailed lab invoice should be included.
- Any claim should include a detailed paid-in-full receipt with a breakdown of charges.
- Additionally, it is a good practice to review adjudication procedures on a regular basis particularly related to assignment of benefits for compression stockings, orthotics and orthopaedic shoes.
Plan sponsors should establish maximums per visit and per practitioner and review their experience at least annually, if not more regularly. Plan sponsor communications to plan members should ensure that they know the prevalence of fraud and how they might unknowingly be at risk. This includes ways to protect their personal information including checking online claims to ensure they are aware of what has been submitted and paid. They should know who to contact and when to reach out if they are suspicious of any activity or any request that may constitute fraud.
Our goal is to maximize the value and efficiency of plan sponsor coverage for their members. In our efforts to help manage increasing costs, we monitor trends and keep our clients informed so their plans provide valuable coverage at the right time for those who need them. Have questions about this or other benefit-related topics? Contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey (SCHS). It reflects how 1500 plan members and 461 plan sponsors feel about their health benefits and organizational health issues based on a cross country survey conducted in January 2017.
The SCHS provides valuable benchmark data on the views of survey respondents and can be used to assess plan sponsor and member needs, particularly for those revisiting their benefits plan design or strategic philosophy on benefits.
And the survey says...
The overall theme of this year's survey seems to reflect a slightly downward trend in 3 major categories.
1) Plan member satisfaction with their health benefits plan appears to have dropped. Only 53 per cent of plan members reported that their benefits plan met their needs extremely or very well. This is a big drop from 73 per cent who reported the same in 1999. However, when plan members are satisfied with their jobs, have access to health promotion programs and spending accounts, they are more satisfied then those without these elements.
Perhaps not surprising, non-unionized and private-sector plan members were less satisfied with their health benefits plans than those in unionized and public-sector plans.
Additionally, plan members who are in poor health were less likely to report that their benefits plan met their needs. There was also a growing perception that employers choose cost control over benefit quality. With this perception in mind, plan members feel less obligated to control costs based on the choices they make as healthcare consumers.
2) Fewer employers are making changes to benefits plan design.
Over the next few years, 11 per cent fewer employers are considering making changes to their health benefits plan design. (42 per cent in 2015 compared to 31 per cent in 2017).
Of the 31 per cent anticipating changes to their plan, what are they going to do? Respondents said they would restructure the plan design (39 per cent), introduce new or increased benefits (38 per cent) and finally, introduce or enhance wellness and illness prevention benefits (36 per cent).
3) Health promotion is levelling off.
While there remains significant unmet mental and physical health needs in our country along with an alarming increase in chronic disease conditions, plan sponsors report their appetite for investing in wellness and health prevention is waning. Even though there are significant workplace issues with stress, anxiety, depression and work-life balance concerns, only 31 per cent of employers plan on investing in wellness. This percentage is down from 68 per cent in 2011.
There could be a number of reasons for this levelling off all of which might be specific to the plan sponsors surveyed. Regardless, promotion of a culture of health in the workplace and looking for practical and affordable ways to prevent the prevalence of stress and chronic disease from growing is necessary. Part of our role is to help plan sponsors find ways to make strategic investments in their benefits plans that are sustainable, valuable and drive toward tangible outcomes. For more information on this topic or other ways to effectively manage benefits plan costs, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Plan sponsors face a new and growing dilemma. While they have addressed the challenges of mitigating the costs associated with prescription drugs for years, the influx of orphan drugs creates a new and complex situation.
Imagine a scenario where a 10 year employee learns that his 4 year old son has been diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening disease. The father, a hard-working, well-liked, loyal employee, seeks help from his employer to pay for the cost of a drug that can potentially save his son's life. The dilemma? The drug's price tag is more than $700,000 for a round of treatment. It isn't covered under the group benefits plan. What does the employer do?
Before we address the scenario further, let's take a step back and look more closely at the definition of orphan drugs, the developing demand for them, and why private payers are increasingly faced with making these kind of difficult decisions.
Orphan drugs defined.
Orphan drugs are a pharmaceutical agent that has been developed specifically to treat a rare medical condition, the condition itself being referred to as an orphan disease. A rare condition is a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition affecting a small number of people.
As per Cadth.ca, it is estimated that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 distinct rare diseases in the world and according to the Canadian Organization for Rare Diseases (CORD), rare diseases affect one in 12 Canadians. Given we are a nation of approximately 37 million people, 2.8 million with rare diseases seems like a significant portion. Additionally, as patents on bestselling drugs like Lipitor and Viagra expire, drug makers are looking to other markets for growth opportunities. Orphan drugs are increasingly entering the market as technological advances continue.
While 2.8 million Canadians or 350 million people worldwide are diagnosed with a rare disease, the ratio remains too small for drug makers to develop orphan drugs using the market conditions applied to other more mainstream medications. Since research and development costs are high for orphan drugs, the cost to purchase these drugs are as well. Affordability remains a significant issue.
Who's on first?
Health Canada continues to develop a regulatory framework for orphan drugs and to increase the availability of these products on the Canadian market. Government payers want to avoid paying for expensive orphan drugs that haven't been proven effective so, at present, private plans are considered first payer with provincial health plans coming in second. A complicating factor challenging the payment model involves the fact that not all provinces have drug formularies to address rare diseases and their reimbursement under specific conditions. Throw in the lack of consistency in both the private and public sector with regard to what rare drugs warrant being covered and you have a perfect storm for the orphan drug payment dilemma.
What's your Benefits Philosophy?
Coming back to the scenario with the father seeking help to cover the cost of an orphan drug for his son's life-threatening condition, the issue remains an onerous one for the plan sponsor thrust at the forefront of the payment model. Employers who develop a benefits philosophy that aligns with the organization's vision, mission, and values have a clearer line of sight to making tough decisions such as whether to cover the cost of orphan drugs or not. Taking a preventative approach before being forced to address such a difficult decision is key. We invite you to contact us. We will work with you to create a benefits philosophy that aligns with your total rewards strategy and your company values. As ever, we are here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
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.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.