Wellness in spotlight at HRD summit

HR leaders come together for in-depth sessions to discuss barriers to usage, employee resilience, best practices

Wellness in spotlight at HRD summit

While employees are feeling more stress and burnout, leading to lowered mental health and productivity in the workplace, only 37% of employees are using their mental health benefits.

That was one of the findings presented by event partner CloudMD at HRD’s Wellbeing Summit Canada on March 1, where a room full of HR leaders gathered together to share insights from colleagues and experts on employee wellbeing.

The three biggest barriers to utilization are:

  • confusion around costs and services available
  • lack of time to participate with the programs offered
  • wait time to access the services.

CloudMD also found that employees want more choice in services, along with help navigating their benefits and coverage, proof that the programs work, and a better customer experience with less waiting.

“People want more choice, they want better communication, and they want a better experience,” says Melissa Alvares, SVP of marketing at CloudMD, who presented the study at the event.

There are just so many options, she says, citing benefits plans, mental health programs and telemedicine as examples.

“It's all over the place and it's really hard for someone to realize they don't understand products and the product names and what the products do... all they need to know is ‘I'm not feeling great, and there's a program that can help me,’” says Alvares, citing the advantage of navigation services that guide employees to the right place.

Be sure to register today for HRD’s upcoming Learning & Development Summit.

Focusing on resilience for success

Also speaking at the event was Erin Dick, assistant vice president of wellbeing services at gold sponsor AON Canada, in a discussion about employee resilience.

“What we've found is that employee resilience is very pivotal to organizational business success,” she says. “It plays a role in burnout — resilient employees are less likely to experience burnout compared to employees who are less resilient — and are also more apt to be retained by the organization, less likely to be searching for a new job. And as such, they're able to really contribute to their own goals, the goals of their teams and the goals of the organization overall.”

There are three pillars to that resilience, says Dick, which include “an employee's ability to weather change and navigate change, both bounce back from change as well as bounce forward and thrive and change, as well as their sense of belonging. So all of that really has to do everything with the employee experience and the day-to-day experiences.”

The whole area of human sustainability has become a priority for many organizations, bringing employee wellbeing to the forefront on the business agenda, she says.

“It's not in a silo on its own. It really is being seen more and more as a part of the solution to the big business issues: attraction, retention, productivity, engagement.”

As for the wellbeing summit, Dick says it’s great to bring people back together face to face.

“We get to share our thoughts and ideas, and we're with like-minded people in the industry… And also just sharing learnings and learning from each other is really important. And I think being able to do it in this type of environment can be critical to all of our own well-being and sense of belonging in this space,

RBC, Starbucks, Telus talk wellness

Also meeting up at HRD’s Wellbeing Summit Canada were HR leaders with wellness programs — from RBC, Starbucks, Telus, the LCBO and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan — talking about the common challenges they face in awareness and engagement with those programs, best practices for overcoming those obstacles and how to effectively integrate wellness into what they offer as employers.

With the pandemic, a big priority in the wellbeing space has been the mental health of employees, says Julie Gaudry, head of group benefits at RBC Insurance, who moderated the panel.

“It was already driver for employee absenteeism and employee disability, but the unique challenges we've all faced by either continuing to have to work in person — because of the nature of the job — or sent to work remotely, and then trying to reintegrate them back into the workplace, these are challenges that we're all facing collectively across Canada or globally, really, and it's having a negative impact on employee mental health.”

“And so there's a greater need, more than ever, I think, for employee employers to be thinking about that.”

Workplace wellness has shifted from a focus on physical health and wellbeing, to the importance of wellbeing strategies as an engagement tool, she says.

More recently, it’s “just the right thing to do,” says Gaudry. “If I want to attract and retain my employees — I need to show that I care about them.”

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