February 2020 – First Mover

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1199442

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Page 17 of 79

Group benefits can be the deal-sealer in hiring and retaining top talent. That means the way benefits are delivered has got to reflect employee needs, and the truth is, group benefits have remained relatively static over the last five or six decades. All the while, societal needs have changed significantly. "We are using a 60-year-old Band-Aid to treat modern problems and it needs to evolve," says Jon Chescoe, principal con- sultant with Ascension Benefits, Inc. "Employer sponsored benefit plans are extremely valuable but are not addressing the more pressing needs that affect employees." Today's reality is that stressors come in from many directions. Whether is it family, financial, physical, emotional or health stress, people need a way to address these issues to ensure mental health and optimal performance. One in five Canadians will deal with a mental health issue this year alone. That is approximately 7.4 million people. What are the odds that this will affect employers in a meaningful and financial way? Very high. The trend particularly affects employers with 50 or more employees. If those employers care about their employees and want to enrich their lives, it's time to rethink the way they deliver ben- efits. But being truly effective means embracing change and rethinking what benefits really are and how they can be maximized. The key to change typically starts with building trust. Meaningful education on varying topics is a great starting point. One session a year doesn't cut it. Regular sessions that answer questions that affect us all with no expectation in return will increase engagement and build a forum for conver- sation. We need to address the needs of people, not just prescription and dental needs. This will impact engagement and productivity over time. Companies that offer resources to help employees cope and thrive will reduce costs and ensure employees are functioning at the most optimal level possible. "The business case is overwhelming," Chescoe says. "Companies offering robust and contemporary employee benefits programs experience measurable reductions in extended healthcare claims, long- and short-term disability claims and claim times." Absenteeism and presenteeism are also reduced, which allows employers to drive engagement and increase the efficiency of their employee group. To be successful and effective, employers need to ask themselves some important ques- tions: Who are we? What are our goals and objectives? What are our desired outcomes? Once these questions are asked and answered, it becomes possible to rethink what a "benefit of employment" is. "Benefits cannot be the same for every employer because every employer is different," Chescoe says. "The collection of people at a spe- cific workplace will have different needs. These can be addressed without breaking the bank." ■ Learn more about Ascension Benefits, Inc. at www.ascensionbenefits.com. Effective employers must embrace change and rethink the way they offer employee benefit plans BENEFITS EVOLVED C R E AT E D BY BCBusiness I N PA RT N E RS H I P W IT H ASCENSION BENEFITS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASCENSION BENEFITS

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