What's the most important offering in a benefits plan?

Canadian survey shows tuition assistance, student loan repayment low on the list

What's the most important offering in a benefits plan?

Money continues to be top of mind for Canadians, and they want their employers to offer them help, according to a recent report.

Canadians feel that financial planning (including budgeting, retirement or investment advice) is the most important aspect in a benefits plan (30%), reports TELUS Health.

That’s far ahead of unlimited mental health coverage and sabbatical or paid leave of absence (both 18%) on the list.

Other things that Canadians feel are important in benefits plans include:

  • coverage for adult children (10%)
  • coverage for parents (7%)
  • coverage for pets (4%)
  • tuition assistance (3%)
  • student loan repayment support (2%).

“The current economic landscape has workers concerned about their financial futures and looking for advice on how to navigate a path forward,” said Juggy Sihota, chief growth officer, TELUS Health. 

Nearly 20 million Canadians are facing financial vulnerability, according to a previous report from the Financial Resilience Institute.

Canadians’ biggest financial concerns

Amid the current situation, keeping up with inflation (29%) is the biggest financial concern for Canadians, according to TELUS Health’s survey of 3,000 employees conducted in August.

Many also fear that they will not have enough money for retirement (20%). They also worry about the accumulation or repayment of debt (11%), covering basic needs (9%), not having enough money for a needed large expense (9%) and having very little or no emergency savings (6%). 

Half of Canadians are “overwhelmed” by debt, according to another study from the National Payroll Institute (NPI).

Currently, 18% of Canadians say they are able to put none of their income into savings, according to TELUS Health. The majority are able to save less than 10% (39%) or more than 10% but less than 30% (31%) of their income. Far fewer are those who are able to save 30% to less than 50% (8%), 50% to less than 70% (2%) and 70% or more (1%) of their income.

Employer supports in benefit plans

Looking to the future, 74% say it is important for their employer to offer a retirement savings option. That’s because nearly half (47%) are uncertain how much savings they will need to maintain their desired standard of living in retirement, and a further 23% do not know.

“Employers who grasp the undeniable connection between mental and financial wellbeing have a unique opportunity to offer all-encompassing and impactful support,” said Sihota. “By providing access to comprehensive benefits plans, tools and resources, employers empower their employees to forge a financially secure tomorrow for themselves and their loved ones.”

One thing that employers can do to help workers is to offer financial wellbeing seminars with the help of benefits providers, as well as extend helpful tips and information from online resources, according to Claire Williams, Ciphr chief people officer.

"Above all, employers need to be mindful that everyone's situation is different. Not everyone is being affected by the same financial pressures equally, and not everyone is coping with the stress of this situation in the same way."

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