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Why Canadian employees want more


The topic of employee benefits is now more important than ever as Canadian businesses and employees negotiate the post-pandemic environment. Data from a recent Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll survey clarifies the challenges that companies have in trying to adapt to the changing needs of their workforce.

Rising demands amid cost of living increases

The survey highlights a significant trend: nearly half (42%) of Canadian companies report that employees are requesting better benefits this year, driven by the increasing cost of living. Yet, 70% of these companies confess it’s impractical to fulfill all these demands. This gap underscores a growing tension between employee expectations and employer capabilities.

Changes in benefits to boost retention

Despite these challenges, there’s a visible shift in how companies approach benefits:

  • 58% of companies plan to keep their traditional benefits unchanged.
  • 36% are looking to enhance benefits, up from 28% in 2022.
  • 59% have modified benefits to retain and attract talent, increasing from 51% last year.

The modifications include:

  • 25% offering cost of living raises.
  • 17% increasing paid time off.
  • 14% introducing customizable benefit packages and additional healthcare incentives like gym memberships and mental health resources.
  • 13% improving retirement plans and increasing sick leave.

These changes reflect an adaptive approach as businesses try to mitigate turnover, which one in three expects to rise this year.

The modern workforce’s benefit expectations

Hanif Hemani of Express Employment in Saskatoon, comments on the shift in benefit expectations, noting that the pandemic has spurred a long-term change in what employees value. The emerging workforce desires a blend of traditional and flexible benefits, reflecting diverse needs across different life stages.

Innovative benefits gaining popularity include:

  • Pet bereavement leave.
  • Flexible wellness and spending accounts.
  • Enhanced mental health supports.
  • Paid wellness days.
  • Extended sick day policies.

These benefits are not just perks but essential elements of a comprehensive compensation package that addresses the well-being of employees holistically.

The business perspective on investment in benefits

Bill Stoller, CEO of Express Employment International, emphasizes the critical nature of strategic benefit offerings. He points out that turnover can cost up to 150% of an employee’s annual salary, highlighting the economic impact of employee dissatisfaction. Stoller advocates for a selective approach to offering benefits, focusing on those that resonate most with the workforce, thus investing in employee retention and overall company health.

Conclusion

The way that employee benefits are changing in Canada is indicative of a larger worldwide trend toward more individualized and all-encompassing compensation plans. The future of work in Canada will probably be greatly influenced by how well these initiatives work as businesses and employees continue to adapt to the new normal.