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

  • Last BlackBerry-designed phone with physical keyboard to hit stores in April

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Fans of BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm played a role in developing the KEYone, named for the return of the QWERTY keyboard that other smartphone designers have mostly long retired. Source
  • Final cleanup begins at Dakota Access pipeline protest camp

    Economic CTV News
    BISMARCK, N.D. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has moved into the evacuated Dakota Access pipeline protest camp to finish the cleanup started weeks ago by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. A Florida-based company has been hired to provide trash removal and environmental cleanup in the main Oceti Sakowin camp on the north side of the Cannonball River and the smaller Rosebud camp on the south side. Source
  • Appealing to millennials, Las Vegas gets e-sports arena

    Economic CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. But what distinguishes this new Las Vegas arena is its dozens of video game consoles. Source
  • Warren Buffett says don't waste money on investment fees

    Economic CTV News
    OMAHA, Neb. -- Billionaire Warren Buffett wants investors to be wary of the high fees Wall Street routinely charges because of the damage they do to investment returns, and he emphasized his confident outlook in the U.S. Source
  • 'We always find a way': N.L.'s oil-dependent economy is hurting, but there is hope on the horizon

    Economic CBC News
    Dwight Ball, the affable pharmacist who has been Newfoundland and Labrador's premier for the last 15 months, said something remarkable Wednesday while swinging an axe through several hundred government jobs. "We're human, too. This impacts us," said Ball, who clearly has shown no relish for the more brutal parts of dealing with an oil-dependent economy during a collapse in petroleum prices. Source
  • Deciphering Trump's curious comments on Keystone XL pipeline

    Economic CBC News
    In his nearly hour-long speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning, U.S. President Trump talked about a lot of things — the media, Obamacare, trade and crime. But he also ventured into pipelines. Source
  • Ontario police looking for 'large quantity' of stolen cheese

    Economic CTV News
    SOUTH WEST OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Ont. - Police in southwestern Ontario are looking for thieves who made off with a lot of cheese. Ontario Provincial Police say the Village Cheese Mill in South West Oxford Township, east of London, Ont. Source
  • Stock prices slide lower despite large profits at big banks

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's benchmark stock index is on track for its worst day of the year as oil prices are lower and financial firms are selling off despite record earnings at some of Canada's biggest banks. The S&P/TSX composite index was off by 260 points to 15,520 in the afternoon. Source
  • TSX tumbles 247 points despite big profits at big banks

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's benchmark stock index is on track for its worst day of the year as oil prices are lower and financial firms are selling off despite record earnings at some of Canada's biggest banks. The S&P/TSX composite index was off by 260 points to 15,520 in the afternoon. Source
  • 'Baycott': Why 'Peeved Beavers' are upset by Ivanka Trump's brand at the Bay

    Economic CTV News
    Armed with distinctive blonde wigs, pursed lips and red power ties, a group of Ontario women are planning to dress up as U.S. President Donald Trump to protest the Hudson’s Bay Co. for carrying Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during two demonstrations in the Toronto area planned for Saturday. Source