The recently released 2020 edition of the Randstad Employer Brand Research reveals that there’s a significant gap between the benefits that Canadian employees want from their employers and the benefits they actually receive. We asked Canadians spanning across generations what non-monetary benefits are most important to them when they’re choosing an employer. Some benefits were universally desirable such as healthcare and flexibility. Others such as childcare and sports and leisure activities were more attractive to specific generations.
In our current era, with the COVID-19 healthcare crisis looming over workplaces, investing in your employees and solidifying your employer brand is critical to build a long-term path forward. Focusing on how you can offer meaningful benefits strengthens your relationship with your team and cements employee loyalty. Too often employers scale back benefits in times like these to cut costs. This approach can do lasting harm to your employer brand and damage your reputation. In times of crisis, turning your focus to non-monetary benefits that are inexpensive but highly desirable to your employees is an excellent way to show your support for employees without skyrocketing costs.
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healthcare and insurance
Healthcare is the most desired benefit by Canadians across generational and demographic lines. Though Canada has a well-regarded universal healthcare system, Canadian workers expect their employers to offer additional healthcare and dental benefits on top of their provincial coverage. 84% of Canadian workers surveyed said healthcare is an attractive benefit, yet only 62% actually receive it from their current employer. Boomers were especially attracted to working for employers who offer this benefit. In particular, boomers look for full or partial reimbursement of prescription glasses or contact lenses. 81% of boomers said this was important to them, but only 23% of employers offer this healthcare benefit. In addition to health and dental insurance, group life insurance was another desirable benefit with 74% of Canadians indicating this benefit is important to them, versus 60% who receive it.
The push toward more flexible workplaces has been happening for a while now. Working parents and people with commitments outside of work are able to enjoy better work-life balance when they have access to flexible work hours. In the era of COVID-19, flexible work has become an even more essential benefit for workers. The ability to work from home and set their own hours is more than a nice perk, it can be life-saving for workers who don’t feel comfortable commuting to work in the midst of a health crisis. 81% of Canadian workers said flexible work such as the ability to choose their own hours or work from home is important to them. Yet, only 52% currently have access to this benefit.
Additional paid vacation and other forms of leave (parental leave, sabbaticals, etc.) are highly desirable to Canadians. 79% of the workers surveyed indicated that they want additional vacation options, compared to the 40% who receive this benefit. This is the largest gap in desirability versus those who receive the benefit. It represents a real opportunity for employers to stand out and offer a highly in-demand benefit that their competitors may not. This benefit was especially important to Gen Xers (in the 34-54 age bracket) who are reaching their mid to late-career and after decades of hard work, are looking for opportunities to take a step back and enjoy their family life, travel, or indulge in other hobbies and passions outside of work.
sports and leisure
Sports and leisure activities are a highly desirable benefit among the youngest working generations. Young workers are looking for opportunities to network, socialize and stay healthy while working full-time. 42% of Gen Z want their employer to provide sports and leisure activities. This benefit is less important to older generations, however. Only 26% of boomers said they would like their employer to offer more sports and leisure activities, so this is a great benefit if you’re looking to build a strong pipeline of talented young workers who you can invest in to become the future of your company. Promoting activities and helping your employees stay active can also have countless other benefits, including reducing your employee healthcare costs and making your employees happier and more productive, so offering this benefit is truly a win-win.
Childcare services are another highly desirable benefit. In Canada, daycare and other childcare options can be prohibitively expensive if parents are not able to access government-subsidized childcare. For young families, where both parents are working, an employer who provides on-site childcare centre or supplements childcare costs can be highly desirable. Childcare benefits were most desirable among Millennials, who are most likely to have young or school-aged children. Gen X and boomers are more likely to have older children who do not require childcare, so 43% of Gen Xers and 23% of boomers rated this as a desirable benefit.