Employee Benefits

In the midst of a tight labour market, Canadians are placing increasing importance on employer-provided benefits plans. According to a recent RBC Insurance survey, nearly three-quarters of young Canadians aged 18-34 (73 per cent) and 35-44 (69 per cent), are significantly more likely to leave their current employer for another that is offering what they would consider to be better benefits.

In determining what makes one benefits plan better than another, the top three desired features as reported by survey respondents were support for mental health (88 per cent), a health spending account (80 per cent) and options to add additional coverage (79 per cent) to better meet personal or financial objectives. These results are aligned with how younger workers are feeling, with 61 per cent reporting lower levels of overall well-being (down three points since 2021), and 58 per cent reporting a decline in mental health (down five points since 2021).

“Given our collective experience since March of 2020, it’s not surprising to see a range of worries and stressors reported by working Canadians” says Julie Gaudry, Head of Group Benefits, RBC Insurance. “The knock-on impacts of a tightening labour market have made flexible and tailored employer-provided benefits desired by many – and clearly a draw, particularly for younger generations.”


Market trends also signal the need for better employer benefits

Some other labour market trends are highlighting the need for competitive employer-provided benefits. According to RBC Economics, there are roughly 70 per cent more job postings and 6 per cent fewer available workers compared to pre-pandemic levels in Canada, creating a ‘buyer’s market’ for those seeking a job change. Further, The Bank of Canada’s Survey of Consumer Expectations revealed the likelihood of a worker voluntarily leaving a job is increasing, as younger Canadians reported lower levels of overall well-being, mental and physical health year-over-year since 2019.
“With heightened competition for talent, it’s critical that organizations develop or refine benefits plans as a key component of their offer,” says Gaudry. “We need to pay particular attention to this younger cohort, which already makes up a significant proportion of the workforce, and continues to grow. Employers must ensure the right support is available to this younger generation.”

Benefits plans make a difference

Canadians with employer-provided benefits are significantly more likely to rate their job satisfaction (64 per cent, six points higher), overall level of well-being (64 per cent, 10 points higher), physical health (62 per cent, eight points higher), mental health (60 per cent, seven points higher), and financial health (55 per cent, 17 points higher) higher than those without benefits.


Top three takeaways for employers

  1. Prioritize employee mental health and well-being. RBC Insurance Group Benefit Solutions offers a Workplace Wellness Toolkit which provides plan administrators with a framework for assessing the well-being needs of their employees and creating a wellness strategy that is tailored to the unique goals of their organization at no additional cost.

  2. Increase awareness of existing benefits plan features. Remind employees about the coverage they may already have available and how to access it. This is also a great opportunity to gather feedback about employee satisfaction of their benefits plan.

  3. Ensure your benefits plan meets the needs of your workforce. One way to do this is to offer flexible coverage and a health or wellness spending account which allows employees to customize their plans to meet their individual needs. This will help with retention and recruitment efforts; especially for younger Canadians.