Over the summer of 2022, Vita Assure in collaboration with Boreala Management, conducted a flash survey of 79 small and midsized businesses located in the province of Quebec. The survey included questions concerning work-life flexibility, current work conditions, available employee perks and short-term enhancements to their benefits. The survey objective was to identify post-pandemic trends. Full results of the survey were only shared with participants.
Here are the top five findings that we shared with the public:
Employee Assistance Programs are underutilized by small businesses
An employee assistance program (EAP) or employee and family assistance program (EFAP) is an employee benefit program that helps employees with personal/family problems and/or work-related issues that may impact their job performance, health, mental state and emotional well-being. Some services that are included in these programs are:
- Telephone consultations regarding legal and financial assistance
- Consultations with a mental health professional
- Assistance to improve overall lifestyle
These programs can be beneficial to businesses as they can help reduce absenteeism and disability claims, as well as increase overall productivity.
46% of surveyed organizations under 100 employees do not offer an EAP; 25% of those do not offer ANY wellness benefits.
It is surprising that almost half of surveyed organizations stipulated that they do not offer an EAP. EAP programs are often times included at no additional cost within group insurance packages for small businesses or can be added to a group insurance plan for a nominal fee ($2 to $5 per employee per month). In our experience, plan administrators and employees are sometimes unaware their group benefits plan includes an EAP.
Considerable number of businesses allow employees to Work from Abroad
42% of employers surveyed allow employees to work from abroad. This said, our survey also indicated that employers do not provide a stipend or travel allowance.
Employers that promote work from abroad as an employee benefit should be aware of limitations to group insurance coverage outside of Canada, and review tax and residency legislation that may affect employees. For example, travel insurance included as part of most healthcare plans may only insure family for a maximum of 60 consecutive days outside of the country. If employees stay longer, they will no longer be covered for medical emergencies.
Work from home is a popular perk that companies continue to offer post-pandemic
87% of respondents provide at least some categories of employees the ability to work from home.
Even though we are seeing many employers trying to get employees back to the office, our survey demonstrates that 87% of employers are still allowing employees to work remotely for at least a certain number of days per week. Of those that do not, 70% are unable to do so due to the nature of the work.
With the early days of the pandemic behind us, remote work seems to have transitioned to hybrid work. According to a recent Benefits Canada article, tensions between employers and employees remain to be resolved because employers feel like hybrid work is a benefit while employees feel like it’s expected.
Compressed workweeks are not common within companies
Only 11% of Montreal-based companies offer compressed workweeks compared to 40% of companies surveyed outside of Montreal.
As the majority of our participants were from the greater Montreal urban area, this shows that compressed workweeks are still not all that popular amongst small and medium-sized businesses.
A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 35–40 hour workweek in less than five workdays. Perhaps after we see what normalizes between work from home and working from the office within the next couple of years, employers will start looking at compressed workweeks and their effectiveness.
Paid Time Off (PTO) was consistently rated as the most effective benefit to attract talent
According to the Future of Work survey conducted by Vita Assure and Boreala Management on small and midsized businesses in Quebec, paid time off is the most effective benefit to attract talent to their organization.
It seems that paid time off is one of the most valued benefits by employees when fielding a job offer. This finding is also supported by another survey of over 550 Canadian workers.
Candidates aren’t just looking at the paycheck anymore but the entire employee experience.
Top 5 HR and Benefit Trends in a Nutshell
As a small employer, you’ll want to stay ahead of these HR and benefit trends. Make sure to complement pay with flexible work conditions as well as generous paid time off and support for overall employee wellness. Solely focusing on salary, is no longer enough to attract and retain talent.