By the year 2020, Millennials will represent 50 per cent of the global workforce.
Who are Millennials?
Millennials or Generation Y represent a demographic cohort born between 1980 and 2000.
There are many stereotypes for Millennials with comments ranging from tech-savvy, educated and energetic to entitled, disloyal and cynical.
Generalizations can be harmful and it isn't a safe bet to broad brush the characteristics of a generation, especially when developing a benefits communication strategy. However, there are some common traits relevant to Millennials that include:
1) a strong feeling of online connection
2) an interest in teamwork
3) a heightened need for choice and control
4) a greater use and comfort with social media, video, online interactions and text messaging.
While these traits may take precedence, it doesn't mean they don't value face to face communication, especially for complex topics or where a series of questions may result.
Regardless of the medium, this generation has a strong appreciation for accurate, straightforward and current messages that are easily digestible and void of corporate spin or jargon.
Do Benefits Matter?
According to a recent report by Ebix Consulting, 49 per cent of Millennials said their employee benefits were a strong driver of financial security and peace of mind. Knowing that benefits matter also requires a keen understanding of this cohort's communication style preferences.
Here are some tips to consider when developing benefit and pension plan communications for Millennials:
1) Make it easy. Make it accessible.
Mirror the experience they have when accessing information in their personal lives. Don't make it difficult to source plan information. Feed them vital communications through their preferred social media channels throughout the year.
2) Make it fun. Make it transparent and real.
Think about how you'd communicate with a friend. Apply appropriate humour and disruptive quirky messages to catch their attention and engage them by keeping it real. Avoid corporate spin particularly if the message may be difficult or seen as a benefit takeaway. Just explain the reason for the change without any spin.
Regardless of generational cohort, revisit communications with a plain language filter. Keep to a Grade 8 reading level or lower and avoid acronyms or legal terms.
3) Keep it short. Make it current.
Limit the amount of text so that it is easily consumable and not overwhelming. Consider adding hyperlinks and scrolling news feeds as well as short articles and videos.
Keep messages timely and revisit as appropriate using other Millennial communication channel preferences. People have limited time and attention spans for benefits communications so don't let your approach make it hard to get your message across effectively.
4) Show all options. Feature flexibility.
Make it clear what benefit plan options exist and how to find more information easily.
5) Invite participation. Start a conversation.
Give the audience an opportunity to participate and have a say. Demonstrate the importance of their ideas and opinions. Create short, fun surveys with humour and irony -- similar to what they use outside of work (Think of the style of quizzes on Buzzfeed.com)
No matter the generational cohort, benefits communications are better served when their target audience is understood and messages are tailored to resonate effectively with them.
Leverage our experience.
An important overall goal for any benefits communication is to create positive and effective messages that reach their intended audience. Creating confidence in the desired call to action, behaviour change, awareness campaign or knowledge transfer is best served when messages, regardless of medium, help employees understand, appreciate, and use their plan(s) wisely.
We have decades of experience communicating to employees of every generation under our belt. We're excited to share our best practices with you. So please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
April 2, 2018 marks another Employee Benefits Day. It has been almost a decade since the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) first introduced this special day for industry professionals. As per the IFEBP, it is a day to recognize trustees, administrators, benefits practitioners and professional advisors for their dedication to providing quality benefits and the important role they play in their colleagues' well-being.
The Theme of Behavioural Economics
This year, Employee Benefits Day brings attention to the topic of behavioural economics and driving better employee decision-making. Specific to benefits and financial wellness, understanding how social and emotional biases influence employees is a key learning tool for benefits and retirement planning practitioners.
In essence, the more that is known about behavioural economics and decision-making bias, the better positioned plan sponsors will be to develop and enhance plan designs that help employees improve their finance and health outcomes.
Addressing Irrational Decision-making
Although we'd like to believe that we all make sound and rational decisions, the reverse is often true. Yet, many benefits and retirement services practitioners craft communications as if those reading their messages have a keen interest as well as at least moderate to high knowledge of the subject. Experience, statistics and behaviour patterns show us that we have a greater tendency of making decisions like Homer Simpson rather than Albert Einstein.
If we want better results, it's time to take a closer look at how behavioural economics can help us. While it remains a relatively new science that marries psychology and economics, people's behaviour and inherent decision-making patterns have been fairly easy to predict over time. Yet we continue to make assumptions about employee actions that aren't correct. Although we might not like to believe it, it's more common than not for people to make decisions without considering if its actually in their best interest.
Unconscious Decision-making Bias
Over the years, I've written a great deal about saving for retirement, debt-management and the value of financial planning. As we unpack key elements of behavioural science, its important to examine the effects of unconscious decision-making bias. To help positively sway plan participant actions, here are some decision-making biases to pay attention to:
1) Choice Overload: if there are too many choices, it can stop one's decision-making ability and cause the employee to choose the default option.
2) Illusions of Control: People overestimate that their choice will generate a specific result. Example - if I buy a lottery ticket, I'm going to win. For savings and investment products, the plan member believes they will make better investment decisions on their own rather than with the help of an investment manager.
3) Inertia or Status Quo: People don't like change. The brain thinks of change as pain and seeks to avoid it. When it can't predict the outcome, the brain prefers the status quo as no change is a "reward" not a threat. For savings and investment products, this effect may show up as the decision to remain in the plan's default option.
4) Loss Aversion: People fear loss more than the potential for gain and may consider contributing to a pension plan with contributions taken from their pay seen as a takeaway rather than considering the upside of gaining employer contribution matching.
5) Unrealistic Optimism: This effect plays out when people believe that bad things happen to other people. They don't happen to them. Similar to the illusion of control bias, people believe that if they choose their investments, it will yield stronger outcomes because they are in control of making the investment choice.
Employee communication continues to be a barrier for positive plan results. Why not give consideration to the theories of behavioural decision-making and see if changes the actions employees take have a more favourable conclusion. So on my Resource Page, I've made available the following articles:
1) Stanford Center on Longevity: A toolkit series brief - 10 things you should know about psychological science and behavioural economics to improve financial and health outcomes with employees and customers and;
2) Stanford Center on Longevity: A toolkit series brief - The MORE Design.
3) Benefits Magazine: Designing and Communicating Retirement Plans for "Humans".
Beyond these applicable resources, we invite you to contact us to discuss ways we can apply behavioural economics to strengthen your benefit and retirement program goals. As always, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
January is here and with it comes the making and breaking of new year's resolutions, new starts, clean slates and ... changes to provincial and federal legislation.
Although I've written about changes to OHIP and the new Ontario drug coverage plan that provides free access to 4,400 prescription drugs for those 24 and under, I thought it might be an important time for a refresher. Related to this provincial change is the development of OHIP+, a mobile-friendly tool to help you find out what is covered at no cost for children and youth aged 24 and under.
This is such an exciting change and the first of its kind in Canada. Free for those with a Ontario health care or health card number are: diabetes test strips, oral contraceptives, medications to treat some childhood cancers, asthma inhalers, drugs to treat depression, anxiety, epilepsy, ADHD, antibiotics, EpiPens, and other conditions.
Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Eligibility requirements
If you are looking to provide an update or a reminder to employees or for your own purposes, remember that to be ODB eligible, you need:
- to be a child or youth, age 24 or younger,
- age 65 or older;
- living in a long-term care home or a home for special care;
- receiving professional home and community care services;
- enrolled in the Trillium Drug Program, Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program. More info about eligible can be found here.
Have your Ontario health card or health card number handy.
More great news -- enrolment is automatic with no co-payment or annual deductible and eligible prescriptions will be filled at no charge at any Ontario pharmacy. Just be sure to show an Ontario health card or health card number.
Changes to parental and maternity leave in Canada.
Back in April 2017, I wrote about the pending changes to the parental and maternity leave in Canada. At that time, nothing had been cast in stone. With the updated rules recently communicated, parents have more choices. They can opt for either 12 months or 18 months of combined maternity and parental leave. This legislative change was effective Dec. 3, 2017 and applies to any expectant Canadian parent outside of Quebec -- which has its own parental and maternity benefits.
December 3 is a key date.
If you started receiving parental or maternity benefits before December 3, the government doesn't offer you the option to switch to the 18-month system. This means that you can't choose to claim extend parental benefits if your child was born or placed with you for the purpose of adoption before December 3, 2017.
The 18-month system has locked in job security for workers in federally regulated workplaces such as transport companies, public service, telecoms and banks. The Canada Labour Code has been updated for this change in legislation already.
Those in provincially regulated jobs (the majority of working Canadians) can choose the 18-month system as of December 3, but may not have the same peace of mind for job security as their federal counterparts quite yet as changes to individual labour codes related to job protection have yet to be amended.
Standard versus Extended Parental benefits - what is the difference?
Standard parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 35 weeks and must be claimed within a 52 week or 12 month period after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The weekly benefit rate is 55% of the claimant's average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share 35 weeks of standard benefits.
Extended parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 61 weeks and must be claimed within a 78-week period or 18 months after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefit rate is 33% of the claimant's average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share 61 weeks of extended parental benefits.
Other legislative updates
For some employers, January may be a busier time as changes to existing policies and collective agreements are updated and/or communicated.
Canada Pension Plan Contribution Rates, Maximums and Exemptions. Each year, the government communicates the information specific to payroll deductions, employer and employee contribution rates.
Specific to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), the 2018 yearly maximum pensionable earnings is $55,900 and the employee and employer contribution rate is 4.95%
Information related to registered plans such as money purchase, defined benefit, RRSPs, deferred profit sharing plans, and tax-free savings accounts limits as well as the year's maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE) is available here.
Employment Insurance (EI) premium rates and maximums -- Federal EI premium rates and maximums for 2018 are: $51,700 is the maximum annual insurable earnings for 2018. The maximum annual employee premium is $858.22 and the maximum annual employer premium is $1,201.51 with a rate of 1.66%
Especially at this time of year, employers are faced with knowing about legislative changes affecting their workplace and sometimes keeping track of all the changes may seem like a bit of a moving target. A knowledgeable third party perspective can foster the confidence that you've applied changes correctly to your specific work arrangements.
We invite you to contact us.
With over 3 decades of industry experience, we have the skills, experience and resources to help you implement policy and plan changes to meet legislative requirements as well as your program needs. As always, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
For some, it is the most wonderful time of the year while for others, it is a time of stressful worry and silent fretting. Media channels depict merry-goers rejoicing and spreading good cheer, but they fail to show the worry many experience after all the gifts have all been unwrapped and the stress of uncertainty sets in -- will there be enough money to cover the costs of all the holiday purchases?
How much do we spend this time of year?
According to CPA Canada, Canadians, on average, spend $766 on holiday gifts. Many spend well over $800 and too few set aside funds to cover their holiday purchases. As per CPA Canada, 61 per cent of those surveyed did not budget for the season.
Making the most of buyer's remorse
After the merriment of December dissipates, January's cold reality makes it stark appearance with the arrival of the previous month's credit card statement. Once the decorations are put away and the holiday parties are over, the season's frenetic pace is often replaced with pangs of guilt associated with buyers remorse. We ask in disbelief as we painfully peruse our credit card balance. "Did I really need all that stuff?"
Given many are faced with paying off holiday debts, it may seem like there couldn't be an appetite for information about debt management or ways to save more. For employers, the new year creates a prime opportunity to reinforce messages related to financial education, budgeting and debt management.
Employer Matching -- don't leave money on the table!
Consider January as a month to dial up pension plan communications and reinforce the value of "free money" employers offer through employer matching. Messages that remind employees about ways to harness the full value of their employer's matching contribution arrangement demonstrate the employer's role in helping them save even more.
Just-in-time communications can create a powerful impact especially at a time when employees might feel more confused or stressed about their financial situation. For many, January is seen as a new beginning offering a clean slate. Why not use it to help employees develop healthy saving tactics as part of their new year's resolution? Consider introducing financial education sessions early in the year that address ways to pay down debt while explaining how it is possible to also participate in the company's pension and savings plans.
Seek feedback about your benefits program
As workforce demographics shift from being heavily weighted with Baby Boomers to the now burgeoning influx of Millennials and Generation Z (those born after 1995), consider soliciting feedback from these cohorts.
- What is it that they really value from a benefits program?
- Are they worried about how long it will take them to pay off student loan
- Are they even remotely interested in saving for retirement or does that seem like so far off in the future that it isn't even on their radar?
- What do they know about the current programs?
Surveys show that when employees are stressed about their finances, they are more distracted at work, take more time off to deal with their financial concerns, and are absent more because of stress-related issues.
Don't assume employees know the details of what is offered in the benefits and pension or savings plans. For example, employee assistance programs that offer financial counselling might come in quite handy as the bills roll in, but how many employees know that this service exists?
Prevention is key. Provide financial education even if the need for it isn't discussed openly around the water cooler. Talking about money woes may be considered rude or even a social taboo. In fact, a survey by Fidelity reported that 43 per cent of respondents didn't know how much their spouse earned and 36 per cent weren't aware of the amount they had invested.
Employees may prove to be more willing to share their interest in financial education via an anonymous survey than they would discussing it directly with their manager or in a team setting. Look for ways to share what's available to them through their pension and savings plans as well as other free community resources. There is no downside to making available information that reduces stress and allows employees the ability to more fully focus their attention on giving their best at work.
For more ways to promote financial literacy, pension and savings communications, we invite you to contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
April is oral health month in Canada and we have good reason to celebrate. According to the Canadian Dental Association, Canada is among the world leaders for overall oral health of its citizens. We have extensive choice and availability for dental service providers with at least one dentist per 1,600 Canadians. Additionally, we can boast -- not that we would -- that 3 out of every 4 Canadians visit a dental professional at least once a year. Additionally, 84 per cent of us believe we have good oral health.
Dental services are treated somewhat separately from other health provisions in Canada with approximately 60 per cent of all private dental care expenditures coming from private insurance and the remaining 40 per cent coming directly out of pocket. The total spend for dental services per Canadian annually is $378.60 compared to $959 for prescription drugs and $946 for physician services. (source: Canadian Dental Association).
These statistics reveal that private insurance plays a key role in providing dental services in Canada. Private dental plans are often divided into 3 levels of coverage such as basic, major and orthodontic services. The basic coverage includes regular check-ups, cleaning and scaling. The major coverage includes the basic provisions as well as services such as crowns and bridges. The orthodontic coverage level may be limited to dependent children or include adults with a set lifetime limit.
Reporting on the trends and important areas of focus for employee education in this area of oral health awareness includes the following:
1) Canadians are keeping their natural teeth, but there is a rise in the risk of enamel erosion, which is irreversible. While less than 7 per cent of adults have lost all their teeth (this is down from 23.6 per cent 20 years ago), dentists are noticing an increase in damage to the hard outer surface of the tooth. As a result, patients are experiencing more tooth sensitivity and tooth decay.
Education and awareness for employees should focus on reducing the acidic drinks like sugary pop as well as the consumption of alcohol. Another tip that might not be well known is to wait 20 minutes after eating or drinking before brushing teeth in order to let saliva time to neutralize the mouth's acids.
Teeth grinding and sleep issues are often triggered by too much stress. Seeing a dental professional in order to be fitted for a mouth guard and ways to prevent additional enamel erosion is a helpful way to avoid more costly dental intervention.
2) Dental professionals also report the connection between oral health and the health of the rest of the body. Specifically, those with gum disease are more likely to have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Education and awareness regarding proper nutrition and tips for making healthy lifestyle choices are beneficial for promoting both oral health and a healthy body. The results of these efforts should be positive health outcomes as well as lower dental claims experience.
3) Technology in dental offices. Just as we experience the rapid evolution of the effects of technology in other aspects of our life, there is no reason it shouldn't occur with dental services. Dental offices are increasingly introducing digital impressions and 3-D printers as well as smart sterilizers. Change will continue to happen and the predominant generation of Millennials in the workforce will expect more from their dental providers as a result. The latest software and intra-oral scanners have the potential to support earlier diagnosis and prevent costly dental procedures,
Keeping employer-sponsored dental costs in check and helping the growing number of "selfie" photo takers continue to value the importance of practicing proper oral hygiene are just two of the reasons to promote oral health month in Canada. If you are looking for ways to build awareness and effectively control your dental claims experience, we invite you to contact us. We have over 2 decades of industry knowledge to bring to work for you. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
There was a time not that long ago when parental leave in Canada was no more than 6 months in duration. Fast-forward from 2003 to March 2017 and we are looking at changes that allow parents to choose to receive employment insurance parental benefits over an extended period of up to 18 months.
Options for parents.
The good news for parents -- they have choices. With the proposed changes in the 2017 Federal budget, parents can elect to take no more than a period of 12 months in order to receive parental benefits at the existing rate of 55 per cent of average weekly earnings or extend the parental leave to 18 months at a rate of 33 per cent of the weekly average wage.
Longer window to secure childcare arrangements.
This extension of parental leave over a longer period of time was a federal election promise made repeatedly throughout the Liberal campaign. With expecting and new parents struggling to secure suitable childcare arrangements, it is promising position especially for parents finding it challenging to secure suitable childcare arrangements.
Keeping parents in the workforce.
The extension also provides a buffer for the parent who was on leave to return to workplace hopefully with less stress and with a greater sense of ease through the transition from primary caregiver to working parent. In the past, it wasn't uncommon for a parent to decide not to return to the workforce or attempt a return on a part-time basis and the extension will hopefully allow parents to embrace a full-time return to work instead.
What does this change means for employers?
1) To top up or not to top up? For larger employers where parental leave top up provisions were part of the employee benefits package, an important decision is necessary. Employers may decide to either top up in alignment with the new parental leave extension or to take no additional action. In reality, there are a number of combinations of a top up scenario that could implemented.
2) Policy Statement review? If employer top up provisions during the parental leave are going to be changed, wording in HR policies will need to follow suit. In addition, vacation accruals, which generally are allocated annually, will need to be reviewed for the parental leave extension.
3) Productivity and filling parental leave vacancies. There are different ways to consider the parental leave extension.
A) It might be easier to secure a top-talent contract replacement when the extended leave duration affords a longer contract position;
B) The extended leave might help ensure that the employee on leave feels ready mentally and physically to return to work on a full-time basis.
C) On the flip side, an extended absence may make it more challenging to reintegrate a worker after an 18-month leave. The employer may find it more work to keep the absent employee updated on changes in the workplace and to ensure they remain engaged and committed to returning.
D) Should the employee's position not be backfilled during the leave, employees might feel the pressure and strain of the work they might be responsible for covering during their colleague's extended absence. A consistent focus on employee engagement initiatives and keeping a pulse on productivity, goals and outcomes will be more important than ever.
If you're looking to make changes to your benefit program as a result of the Federal Budget announcement regarding the proposed extended parental leave or otherwise, we have the experience to recommend and navigate effective solutions to meet your needs. We invite you to contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Monday, April 3, 2017 is National Employee Benefits Day. It is a day that was introduced by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans eight years ago. Over time, employers, administrators, trustees, and service providers throughout North America began embracing the idea of celebrating a day for employee benefits recognition. After all, isn't increasing awareness and appreciation of employee benefits an ongoing goal for anyone working in the benefits industry?
Communication is the Word.
This year's theme is "Benefits Communication". For everyone's ease of reference, the IFEBP aggregated all of their content related to employee benefits communication into one website.
On April 3, the IFEBP will be offering a free webcast: Making the Connection: How to Make Your Benefits Communications Work. This webcast is open to members and non-members alike. They've also created checklists and sample communication materials to support the work being done to ensure the health and financial security of workforces in Canada and the US.
Over the years, we've shared a lot of information, tips and resources to support employee engagement, productivity and benefits appreciation. Guided by over a quarter century of experience in employee benefits, we know that communicating effective can help effectively reduce the cost of group benefits by as much as 20 percent (source: McKinsey& Company)
Is a rebranding of the benefits message necessary?
Communicating well about a benefit program also helps with employee attraction and retention efforts. If, and when, there are engagement issues, simply throwing more dollars at the benefit program might not be the solution. First, look at how the messages about the benefits offering are communicated and consider if more of a marketing or rebranding exercise is warranted. Perhaps there are other communication methods better suited to a particular workforce or a specific demographic within it.
Benefits are only good if they are valued.
Benefits, as good as the design was intended to be, are truly only great if they are understood, valued, and meet employee needs. Really knowing your workforce demographics and asking the tough questions to determine if you are properly and effectively reaching your audience is helpful.
Ask yourself or your communication team:
Many employees continue to generate employee survey results revealing that poor communication acts as a barrier to employee engagement and unfortunately, the trend for success in this area isn't where employers or employees need it to head.
We work with our clients on benefit program design and communication efforts that everyone can be proud of. We understand that clear and simple messages help tell outcome-based success stories and also speak to the motivating influencers that happen during an employee's life journey. The right message at the right time for the right audience builds employee benefit program awareness, understanding and value.
It is an ongoing exercise in strategic thinking, consistency and transparency, but one that is worth the effort in the short and long run. We invite you to contact us for ways to celebrate Employee Benefits Day. We're 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.
A great deal of attention is being paid to Millennials (born between 1980-2000) and for good reason. By the year 2020, they will represent approximately 50% of the North American workforce. Their views toward debt management and saving for retirement are important considerations as they begin to dominate as consumer and workplace influencers.
What about the other demographic cohorts in the workforce?
While Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1965) are still part of the workforce, we see their numbers continuing to decline even though Canada has one of the highest percentages of working age people of all G8 countries at 68.5% (age 15-64), according to Catalyst.org.
While their numbers might not be as plentiful, Baby Busters, also known as part of Generation X - the core of them born between 1966 and 1971, represent 2.8 million people in Canada, according to information provided by Statistics Canada (www.12.statcan.gc.ca).
Economic challenges face each workforce demographic, but GenXers have lived through unprecedented economic transformation with large swings in the job market and, since the elimination of mandatory retirement, need to redefine the timing of their own workforce exit strategy. As a result, Baby Busters don't have the same sense of career and retirement as the generations preceeding them. With the impact of larger economic forces, GenXers developed less confidence in their ability to save for the long-term. With so much vying for their dollars earned (mortgage, loads, credit card debt, emergency funds, child's education savings), other financial needs simply take priority over saving for retirement.
With RRSP season upon us, there tends to be an influx of savings-related surveys published annually by various financial instituations to help assertain savings patterns and consumer behaviour. Recently, TD announced the results of their latest survey, which highlighted that more than two-thirds of Canadians between the ages of 35-54 (Gen X) say they're not saving enough for retirement. It is this cohort that says they really need help meeting their financial goals and they feel guilty about not saving enough.
Don't expect to retire on time.
In addition, 25% say not being ready for retirement is keeping them up at night. Also, the majority of this Baby Buster-GenX cohort report that they don't expect to be able to retire on time and 29% anticipate working in some manner during "retirement."
The TD survey sites savings barriers resulting primarily from GenXers' everyday financial demands such as: living expenses, mortgage or rent, as well as childcare costs (61%). These Baby Busters also said they struggle with paying down exsiting debt (42%) and other major unexpected life events like divorce or death of a spouse (19%).
While Millennials (born between 1980-2000) expressed similar worries to those of the Baby Busters, the Millennials or Generation Y have a longer savings runway with peak income earnings years still upon them even though they may feel that saving for the long-term, given all the economic turbulance, seems somewhat less reasonable.
Mindsets and intrinsic motivation
What does all this survey information mean when communicating the importance of saving for retirement and engaging employees in participatory pension and savings programs? It means that demographics influence an employee's personal finance mindset and their attitude toward savings habits.
If Traditionalists (born before 1946) could advise GenXers, they would likely tell them to spend less than they make because after all, "a penny saved is a penny earned". Even though this historically thrifty cohort enjoyed the opportunity for long careers with one employer, they might tell this generation that spending less might mean cutting back on day-to-day expenses. They might encourage them to find a way to contribute regularly to their retirement savings and share that doing something now is better than feeling overwhelmed and giving up on building a nest-egg. They might also reinforce the need to manage both sides of the balance sheet.
It is the simple wisdom of those who travelled the road ahead who can look back with clarity and offer up insights that are tried and true. This approach also works for workplace communication strategies -- look closely at what intrinsically motivates each generation in order to help them better prepare for their financial future, today.
These topics along with others pertaining to workforce trends and their influence on group benefit and pension programs remains an important area of focus for us. We invite you to contact us with questions. We are here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
You've likely seen it, the commerical for a prescription medication that depicts a person living a happy and careful free life now that they are taking the featured medication. Then just at the commerical ends, a long and frightening list of potential side effects is read aloud by a voice-over actor. The result -- a growing fear of medication side effects. In fact, this fear of side effects is one of the primary reasons people don't adhere to the prescription medication protocol prescribed them.
Why aren't you taking your pills?
As researchers begin to take a closer look at the issue of medication non-adherence, the reasons bubbling to the surface for not taking or finishing their pills includes
1) symptoms disappear and the patient stops taking the medication
2) can't afford the medicine
3) just forgot to take them
4) instructions for taking the medication are too complicated (taking it with food or after a meal or more than once a day at different times)
5) difficult to get the "child proof" cap off the medication
6) experiencing side effects
7) patient motivators and triggers
Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, medication non-adherence is a serious issue. The findings in a recently released study by the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) and Shoppers Drug Mart revealed that "50% of Canadians with chronic diseases are non-adherent to their medications" and that one in three prescriptions go unfilled, and even when then are filled, they are not taken.
The survey says...
Medication non-adherence costs the patient in terms of overall health and recovery, and it also costs our public health care system. This same CARP and Shopper's survey reported that "69% of medication-related hospitalizations were due to non-adherence to prescription protocols." The associated cost to Canada is estimated between $7 and $9 billion annually. Additionally, the survey found that 50% of people with chronic diseases didn't follow the prescription protocol outlined by their doctor thereby not even giving the medication a chance at being effective.
Aside from the impact to the patient and to our public health care system, when an employee is medically non-adherent, they cost their employer through increased absenteeism, disability claims and increased extended health claims; especially for high cost drugs.
What can be done to remedy the situation?
Employers can help employees understand what information and support is available to them as patients.
- Inform employees about the potential health implications of non-adherence.
- Share with them about the convenience of mail-order pharmacies to support those with chronic conditions requiring maintenance medications.
- Provide information about ways pharmacists can help including consultations and follow-up calls to remind them to pick up refills. Additionally, pharmacists don't require an appointment in order for a consultation to happen, particularly if there are concerns about possible side effects.
- Inform employees of pharmacies that provide medication organization packs, pill cards for taking multiple medications, and locations for 24 hour pharmacies.
The issue of medication non-adherence is one that can be addressed through education, awareness and perseverence. The more informed you are, the more opportunity you have to effect positive outcomes. We invite you to contact us to discuss available insurer-generated data to identify opportunities to promote adherence, reduce absenteeism and gain productivity. We're here to help so 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.