(This post is about a 4.5 minute read)
Consider for a moment the many not-for-profit organizations you know of who rely on volunteers to help them get their work done. These volunteers are performing essential roles within our communities. According to thephilanthropist.ca, Canadians volunteer so much each year, that collectively, their time has been calculated to be the equivalent of a million full-time jobs. While funding challenges ensure there’s a steady demand for more volunteers each year, we also see a shift in the way that people participate: the definitions and recognition of volunteerism are evolving. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the time challenge some people face when they want to volunteer but just can’t fit it into their schedules. That’s where workplaces are uniquely poised to help and in the process, realize considerable gains in the areas of attracting and retaining talent, developing strong and healthy workplace cultures, and cultivating increased productivity and profitability.
Wanting to volunteer, but juggling too much day-to-day
A 2017 Ipsos summary report on volunteering commissioned by Volunteer Canada, showed that a majority of Canadians (65%) feel, “they have a responsibility to those who may need help in the community.” The study found that a significant number of people (57%) say that they don’t have time to fit volunteering into their existing obligations. It may be that people are finding it more difficult to engage with their communities these days, or that within the activities they are involved in – anything from school activities to little league, to community theatre – more often than not, volunteering is mandated in a way that is turning it into more of a chore that doesn’t feel right. Time crunches mean that people are looking for opportunities to fulfill their volunteer aspirations as part of what they achieve through their employers, especially those that have formalized social responsibility and volunteerism programs. In fact, “68 percent of Canadians…said that, given the choice, they would choose a job with a company that has a strong volunteering culture over one that does not.” Further, employees who can volunteer either as part of a team-based activity or who individually, are sponsored by their employers, report feeling a greater sense of loyalty and pride in their workplaces over time.
Employers who support volunteering are highly prized
While Canadians want their employers to organize volunteer activities because it’s a perk of working for a great company, for workplaces this expectation is not just about giving people time off to participate. Companies who have well-defined goals and protocols around volunteering and frame the terms of engagement but also offer flexibility and choice of how their employees can volunteer are increasingly becoming more attractive. It’s a win-win situation. There is often a good mix of events – anything from walks and runs for great causes to healthy competition between rival companies for donations. However, there are also many quiet, more individualized opportunities, such as spending time helping people learn how to read. The bottom line is that for both participating companies and employees, they receive recognition and are well-regarded in their communities which in turn promotes a great sense of accomplishment and belonging.
Walking the talk, how we get involved
Our own office looks for opportunities to get involved in the community regularly. For instance, we participated in a team activity at the Ottawa Food Bank sorting donated food to prepare it for those in need. Our employees were enthusiastic and asked many questions about the Food Bank to get a better understanding of how it fits as community support. The time we shared was overwhelmingly positive, and people wanted to bring their children back to volunteer as well. The team felt they had made a difference and was eager to volunteer again. As an employer, we were thrilled. We provided a chance for employees to learn, putting their skills to work to help an organization who needed their time and labour.
One of Gallagher’s volunteerism goals is to have our employees give back to the community. This activity did so in spades since employees felt good about their contributions and so many of them also indicated that they wanted their families to get involved. It was a case of Gallagher giving back, but our employees paying it forward too.
There are a lot of gains for employers too
Employers are seeing sustained positive benefits of volunteer activities back in the workplace. Employees are feeling refreshed, more connected to their co-workers, happier and more engaged. They’re working harder and being more productive. Results show increased employee engagement. People are coming back more focused and reinvigorated. They are learning new skills, trying things that aren’t naturally part of their roles at work, and thinking differently about their jobs with a fresh perspective. Given all the positive returns, it’s good business to get involved!
If you have questions about how to get started with your volunteering program, feel free contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Every year it seems like technology is taking us in new directions and changing how we communicate and do business.
We've experienced the novelty of car phones, cell phones and now, smartphones as well as Google Home, Siri commands, and superfoods delivered to your door. Technological advancements seem to afford us endless possibilities and the potential for a future that is beyond limits. This notion got me thinking about how technology changed the way products and services are delivered and how it affects group benefits as a whole.
Last year, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported on benefit industry changes over the course of the last 20 years. Their survey captured a comparative analysis of benefit plan offerings in 1996 and then again in 2016. This report captured marked differences including "what's in" and "what's out." While these examples reflect the sentiments of US respondents, they are not out of line with the trends reported by Canadian employers.
Telecommuting. In 1996 only 20% of companies offered employees the ability to work remotely. Technology and views of employers shifted significantly in 20 years. In 2016, 60% of companies provide flexibility in terms of promoting work-life balance.
Professional development. In 1996, the emphasis on recruiting and employee retention was not as much of a focus as it is today. In 2017, 86% of companies cover additional training and education for their employees. Costs for memberships to professional organizations and trade unions are up 88% as compared to 65% in 1996.
Focus on Wellness. In 1996, 54% of employer offered health and wellness programs. Comparatively, in 2016, 72% of employers offer wellness programs including discounts on insurance premiums or Health Savings Accounts. Given the increased number of chronic disease conditions related to diabetes, obesity and heart disease seen in the workplace, this increased focus is well placed.
Employee stock purchase plans. Back in 1996, 28% of companies offered employee stock purchase plans compared to 9% in 2016.
Credit union memberships. The buzz around credit union membership has seen its heyday. Today only 23% of companies offer credit union memberships compared to 70% in 1996.
In 2017, we see more examples of providers implementing service experiences using artificial intelligence. Members can find out if their massage claim was processed using Google Home. It begs the question, what is next? Time will tell -- and we can help. Our extensive resources ensure we stay ahead of the curve so that we're at the ready when you are. We invite you to contact us to discuss employee benefit trends and ways to ensure you're staying current with recruitment, retention and benefit plan arrangements to meet your specific requirements now and in the future. As always, 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.
There is an odd dichotomy in the employment landscape right now. The Canadian unemployment rate hovers around 6.8 to 7 percent over the course and yet there are many employers who struggle to find the right candidate and have jobs sitting vacant for months at a time.
Recruiters and Human Resources professionals alike spend upwards of 15 hours per week just looking for the ideal candidate for their client. Perhaps there are jobs that Canadians won't take or maybe there is a significant skills shortage to match the demands of available work. Another possibility could be that there is too much competition in the marketplace or that some employers struggle with reduced budgets to support their recruiting needs. Whatever the mix of reasons, recruiting challenges exist and aren't likely to dissipate any time soon -- especially when one factors in North American Baby Boomer statistics where 10,000 workers retire every day.
Recruiting challenges are real and they are costly. The average hiring time is 10-12 weeks from job opening to accepted offer and the reality is that most organizations underestimate the cost of recruitment by 90-95%. In addition, once a suitable candidate has been interviewed and considered optimal for the role, over 50% of job offers are rejected.*
Smart recruiting involves strategically navigating the hiring landscape. My top tips for addressing current recruiting challenges are:
1) Rule the Job Description domain: spend sufficient time really ensuring that a detailed job description has been prepared with day-to-day duties clearly identified so that the candidate has a good picture of the nature of the work and you haven't created unrealistic expectations or hiring requirements.
2) Communicate your vision and market the organization: Candidates, especially Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) want to feel that they are connected to something greater and have a strong sense of community. They often seek this over job security.
Spending time communicating the vision and mission of the company as well as how the candidate's department fits into the overall scheme of things will help better position you when it comes to competition for talent.
3) Outline opportunity and total rewards: Make the effort to describe the opportunity for growth and advancement that exists within the organization for a talented team player and provide details about the total compensation arrangement, not just salary information.
4) Involve the direct supervisor as well as other employees in recruiting efforts: Loyalty and higher engagement are known to come from situations where referrals offer up the strongest candidates because workers understand they will have to work day in, day out with the person they've recommended. Also, managers generally know the details of the role better than a recruiter and whether a candidate is a good fit based on their own experience and knowledge of education and experience required in a specific field.
Employers who apply these steps as part of the hiring process do themselves a recruiting favour and also put applicants in a better position to feel excited about the prospect of being a strong organizational fit. There is a lot to consider when working to overcome existing recruitment challenges. As part of Gallagher Benefit Services, we have the experience of a global organization to address your needs. We invite you to contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
*source: Reed in Partnership
As a leading local benefit and pension consultant of Carleton Financial Group (CFG), I have always been passionate about providing superior service and innovative solutions for our clients’ insurance and benefit consulting needs.
In an effort to continue to expand our servicing offering, I am pleased to announce that effective August 26, 2013, Dickinson & Associates o/u CFG, has merged with Gallagher Benefit Services Inc., a subsidiary of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., which has more than 80 branch offices around the world.
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. is ranked by Business Insurance Magazine as one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage firms. Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. was originally a family-owned property & casualty agency in Chicago, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. is ranked by Business Insurance magazine as one of the world's largest insurance brokers and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AJG.
We will continue to operate as a local autonomous office with the same leadership, management, staff and culture that our clients have always associated with us; however, we will now be able to offer even more services. These new offerings will broaden the range of products and services available to our clients, provide access to U.S. and International insurance markets and increase our leverage in negotiating insurance contracts and rates for our clients. In a nutshell, we will be able to provide a national platform while maintaining our local presence.
Although our name will be different, our passion to effectively manage each client’s unique needs will not. Our entire staff will remain in place to serve our clients' needs at the highest level. I am truly excited about this new change and believe it will help us become an even stronger business partner for our clients.
As always, my team and I remain focused on delivering the highest level of client service. If you have any questions about this announcement, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.