Employers tweaking health plans to appeal to millennials

TORONTO - During his three-year tenure as a financial analyst at one of Canada's biggest banks, Devon Wright never once used his company health plan.

See Full Article

"There was just nothing there that was of any interest to me," says Wright, 28.

So when Wright quit his job in 2012 to launch technology company Turnstyle Solutions, he decided to create a benefits package tailored to his needs.

Turnstyle is one example of how Canadian companies are tweaking their health plans in order to appeal to a new generation of employees in the coming years. PwC predicts that millennials - who it defined as people born between 1980 and 2000 - will comprise 50 per cent of the global workforce by 2020.

In addition to the standard drug and dental benefits, Turnstyle covers naturopathic medicine, mental health counselling and provides employees with a fitness subsidy that they can spend on anything from a gym membership to yoga classes to participation in a Frisbee league.

The Toronto-based startup also offers free, healthy meals several times a week - a major perk for 23-year-old Sam Hillman.

"Some mornings we have soup, or avocados and eggs," says Hillman, an account director with the company's sales team.

"This emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle really shows the company's commitment to me as a holistic individual, and not just a Turnstyle employee."

Life insurance companies such as Sun Life Financial and Manulife Financial say a growing number of employers have been looking to implement corporate wellness programs in recent years, partly in response to the desires of millennial workers.

Wellness programs include services such as smoking cessation, on-site flu shots and biometric screening, which measures characteristics including blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol to track employee health.

Preventative health care has become increasingly popular as employers have come to realize how it can benefit not only the individual but the company. Healthy workers are more productive, miss fewer days of work due to illness and are less likely to request costly drugs later down the road.

"We're trying to respond to what millennials are looking for, but there are also benefits to the organization for doing these things," says Joy Sloane, a partner in the Toronto health and benefits consulting practice at human resources firm Morneau Shepell.

Insurers have also started using wearable fitness trackers and incentive programs that reward customers for practising healthy behaviours, such as undergoing annual checkups or regularly hitting the gym.

Manulife, which launched an incentive program south of the border last year, announced on Tuesday it will bring it to Canada this year.

Flexible plans, such as health spending accounts, are also on the rise as employers look to recruit and retain young workers.

"The millennial generation is looking for different things than their parents had in terms of benefits plans," says Lori Casselman, assistant vice-president of integrated health solutions at Sun Life Financial.

Millennials place a much greater priority on mental health services, such as counselling and support groups, than their predecessors did, according to insurers.

"Mental health is now recognized as being one of the key factors in absenteeism and lost productivity, as well as drug claims and long-term disability," says Lisa Callaghan, assistant vice-president of products for Manulife's group benefits division.

"Mental health not only impacts the individuals, but also impacts the team, the environment and the culture, and for those reasons it is becoming more culturally accepted to have those conversations."

While much of the change to corporate health plans is being fuelled by millennials entering the workforce, Sloane says it isn't just young workers who reap the rewards of such changes.

"Although it's being targeted at the millennials, I think it's really beneficial for the whole working population," she says.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Bitcoin and blockchain start-ups cashing in on cryptocurrency frenzy

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- The investor frenzy driving bitcoin prices to precipitous heights is playing out on stock markets as well, as companies shift focus to cryptocurrencies to get in on the latest boom. "People are trying to surf off the wave of bitcoin by strategically changing their name," said Jean-Philippe Vergne, co-director of the Scotiabank Digital Banking Lab at Western University. Source
  • Bernie Sanders, others on political left push Trump to maintain NAFTA hard line

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON - Donald Trump is being told to stay strong on trade by people who aren't normally his allies. Bernie Sanders and other members of the anti-NAFTA left are holding a news conference on Capitol Hill this morning. Source
  • Uber: No evidence hackers took rider credit card numbers

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- Uber says an outside cyber security firm hired after a massive data breach has found no evidence that rider credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers were downloaded by hackers. The company also says in a response to demands for information from U.S. Source
  • Fed raises interest rates, keeps policy outlook unchanged for 2018

    Economic CBC News
    The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, as anticipated, but left its rate outlook for the coming years unchanged even as policymakers projected a short-term acceleration in U.S. Source
  • Housing market expected to slow next year, but prices still forecast to rise

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- New stricter mortgage rules are expected to slow the housing market next year, but prices are still expected to rise about five per cent, according to a report by Royal LePage. In its market survey forecast, the real estate firm says its house price composite, which measures prices in 53 Canadian cities, is expected to increase 4.9 per cent next year to $661,919. Source
  • Meal-kit trend grows into $120M industry in Canada

    Economic CTV News
    Matthew Richardson decided it was finally time to change his cooking habits. After moving in with his girlfriend this past summer, Richardson, 36, figured they should put a stop to their frequent eating out and make a real effort to prepare their own meals at home. Source
  • Meal kits are now a $120M industry in Canada

    Economic CTV News
    Matthew Richardson decided it was finally time to change his cooking habits. After moving in with his girlfriend this past summer, Richardson, 36, figured they should put a stop to their frequent eating out and make a real effort to prepare their own meals at home. Source
  • Hectic lives making meal kits delivered to your door a booming trend in Canada

    Economic CBC News
    Matthew Richardson decided it was finally time to change his cooking habits. After moving in with his girlfriend this past summer, Richardson, 36, figured they should put a stop to their frequent eating out and make a real effort to prepare their own meals at home. Source
  • Legal weed stores will be 'very chic, very modern'

    Economic CTV News
    This is what the end of cannabis prohibition will look like in New Brunswick: An upscale showroom with black ceilings, grey walls and a once-illicit drug displayed in brightly lit glass cases. "Think along the lines of a jewellery store. Source
  • U.S. inflation rate ticks up to 2.2% as Federal Reserve expected to announce rate hike

    Economic CBC News
    Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose by 7.3 per cent last month, enough to push the country's overall inflation rate up to 0.4 per cent. The Department of Labour said Wednesday that November's data means the annual inflation rate hit 2.2 per cent for the 12-month period. Source