Chronic ailments: Ground-breaking benefits offer staff support

Plan sponsors are now seeing the value of having a culture of wellness at work

Chronic ailments: Ground-breaking benefits offer staff support

With more than half of Canadian workers (54%) struggling with a chronic ailment, employers are now looking for better ways to keep staff healthy and productive, a new report showed.

The majority of plan sponsors (82%) in the country want an improved health benefit plan to accommodate employees suffering from chronic disease or chronic pain, be it mental illness, hypertension or arthritis, according to the 2019 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey.

Findings showed employees who are able to manage their chronic disease or condition well have access to an ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ benefit plan (61%). They believe their benefit package meets their needs ‘extremely well’ or ‘very well’ (60%).

“The perceived quality of the health benefit plan and the work environment appear to affect people’s ability to manage their condition,” the researchers said.

In workplaces that promote wellbeing, people are more likely to value their personal health (52%). This culture of wellness also contributes to their overall job satisfaction (85%).

But employers aren’t just relying on their health benefit plans alone. Over the next three years, plan sponsors are looking to invest additional funding and resources into employee wellness initiatives beyond what is offered in their standard benefit package. These include programs that promote:

  • Emotional and mental health (61%)
  • Physical fitness (53%)
  • Prevention of illness or management of chronic conditions (48%)
  • Social wellbeing (42%)

“The gap between plan members and plan sponsors is closing, but it’s still a big gap,” said John McGrath, employee benefits advisor at ZLC Financial, in the Sanofi Canada report.

“We need to take awareness of chronic disease to the next level by connecting the dots between lost productivity, absenteeism, the cost of the drugs, disability, et cetera,” he said.

“But we don’t just need more reporting – we also need to come up with different solutions.”

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