SunLife's AVP reveals the future of employee benefits

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SunLife's AVP reveals the future of employee benefits

The future of benefits is bright, as organizations are finally beginning to see the importance of a flexible, hyper-personalized plan. HRD Canada spoke to Jean-Michel Lavoie, AVP, Product Development, Group Benefits at Sun Life Financial, to hear more on the future of perk plans.

What’s the secret to an inclusive benefits plan?
If you take a look at the most recent The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, one of the aspects that’s come to life around the secrets to a good plan is ensuring the benefits match the culture within the organization. Of course, depending on the size of the employer, the benefits should match their policies, their work arrangement and their overall culture. Another important point to consider is communication. A lot of sponsors offer fabulous benefits plans, but employees simply do not understand them – they don’t know what they have access to. I’ve noticed in the past few years that the design of the plan is mattering less and less. Employers just have to make sure employees are aware of what they can access. The biggest concern for organizations is not making changes to their existing plan, which is interesting.

What influenced your decision to include medical marijuana in the plans?
Frankly, it came from client feedback and requests. A couple of years ago, a sponsored asked for a reimbursement for medical cannabis. A handful of clients then approached us to have their plans customized to include not only marijuana under the ‘health spending’ account – but as a benefit. The eventual volume of these customization requests led to us building a standardized model to go to market with – this allowed sponsors to opt in and add their personal customization to the new standard. The feed back has been great, so far. There’s certainly been lots of interest around the new benefits. There’s been a steady pick-up of the product – sponsors normally don’t make changes outside of the benefits cycles. I just think this will continue to increase, especially when employer get around to renewing their plans.

What’s the future of benefits, in your opinion?
Referring back to Sanofi, this is a question asked every year. Some of the employers’ top concerns revolve around drug plans, dental plans and absence. Not surprising, then, in the future of benefits plan these three concerns will come to the fore. From a benefits perceptive, that means lots of changes in the alcohol and drugs initiatives.

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