Towards Total Productivity: Reimagining Benefits For Small Business
October 1, 2020 at
In September, Talent Canada magazine sat down with experts across the country for a special roundtable discussion on benefits for small business.
The wide-ranging conversation explored ways small- and medium-sized employers can maximize their benefit dollars, ensuring that investments are understood and appreciated by employees.
A benefits plan, properly implemented and communicated to workers, can be a massive differentiator for employers when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
The panel featured:
- Patrick Desormeau, president, financial security advisor and group insurance and group annuity plans advisor at Nexim Insurance Solutions, Laval, Que.
- Frank Tangredi, regional vice-president, Sun Life, Montreal.
- Dominika Urbanowski, executive administrator, Exro Technologies Inc., Vancouver.
- Moderator: Todd Humber, Group Publisher for Talent Canada at Annex Business Media, Toronto.
For full coverage of the roundtable discussion, see https://www.talentcanada.ca/reimagining-benefits-for-small-business/
Patrick held a number of management positions in the insurance industry before going into the brokerage world in 1996. Having started his career at Sun life Financial, he rapidly rose and held supervisor positions in claims and then in administration. With his experience in both claims and administration he made the move to Quebec Blue Cross in 1988, becoming director – claims and administration. In 1991 he moved over to Industrial Alliance as a senior director of client services. With Quebec Blue Cross approaching him again in 1993, he switched back over holding the position of senior vice-president of client services. In 1996, looking for a new challenge, he decided to take a position in managed care systems and became the president of Foxmeyer Health.
In 1996, after years of developing a solid background in client services and talking about going into business for themselves, Patrick decided to take the leap and join his brothers in transitioning to the brokerage world. Le Group Vigilis was created to service the OPCAQ (Quebec Order of Chartered Professional Accountants ).
In working for themselves and having an association under their belt, they decided to conquer the Group Insurance for Association plans niche. Over the years, their company quickly grew, adding more associations to their rolodex. Nexim Canada was established in 2006, when Patrick was able to secure a contract with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and its 110,000 member-firms to be the exclusive provider for their Group Insurance Plan. Working with over 250 brokers across Canada, Nexim Canada distributes Group Insurance products to hard working Canadians across the country in every province.
As vice-president, business development, Frank leads the business development teams for Québec and Eastern Ontario at Sun Life. In overseeing these teams’ management of their accounts, Frank is responsible for promoting strong relationships with its customers and their advisors, and for ensuring Sun Life delivers exemplary service and value.
Frank joined Sun Life in 2013 and brings to his role over two decades of progressive industry experience including disability management, underwriting and business development. His knowledge of clients’ needs and partnership approach in finding innovative customer solutions have been integral to Sun Life’s successful business development strategy.
Frank holds a Group Benefits Administrator (GBA) designation through the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) program at Dalhousie University and is a Fellow, Life Management Institute with the Life Office Management Association (LOMA).
With more than 12 years of experience, delivering outstanding customer service has always been an essential part of a day’s work for Dominika. She joined Exro Technologies Inc. as an office manager in 2017 where she was responsible for defining and implementing office procedures and used her organizational skills to ensure smooth operations in a busy work environment.
Moving into the position of executive administrator in 2020, she continues to focus on providing administrative, logistical and project management support to the executive team, and oversees the administration of HR policies, programs and practices. As Exro continues to grow, Dominika remains the reliable “Go to” person for the company.
Prior to joining Exro, Dominika ran her own business as a small-scale food producer. She holds a public relations certificate from Simon Fraser University, and a diploma of technology, international trade and logistics from British Columbia Institute of Technology.
COVID-19’s impact on employee benefits
The pandemic has created a lot of challenges for employers and employees – lockdowns, caring for loved ones, going back to school. For leaders, the focus was on keeping the doors open and people employed. For insurers, it was finding ways to help plan sponsors. Tactics included financial relief, flexible payment options and premium credits for benefits (such as dental and paramedical) that were going unused.
There was a lot of on-the-fly changes as none of this was covered in written contracts. As concerns mount about a second wave, everyone agrees that employers and insurers will be in a better spot because they now know what to expect.
What SMEs need in a benefits plan
Benefits have become a key tool in attracting and retaining employees. A Sun Life/Ipsos survey found 53 per cent of plan sponsors see benefits as way to source talent. Nearly two-thirds of employees said they would prefer to keep their benefits plan over a $5,000 increase in salary.
Cost containment for benefit plans for SMEs
When launching a benefit plan for employees, start small. With no history, it’s difficult to peg all the costs because there are expensive medications out there and you never know what health issues dependents may have. In short, it’s easier to start slow and add benefits to the program than it is to introduce them and take them away.
There are also a lot of digital options available to employers and employees when it comes to benefits. Employees are also more comfortable than ever with smartphones and accessing self service.
Understanding benefit costs, and how to communicate value to staff
Most employees are clueless about what benefits actually cost — and it’s typical for their employers to foot 50 per cent of the bill. Experts recommend spelling it out to staff annually so they understand the perks being provided. It’s like a salary increase, but only better because it’s not taxable.
TeleMedicine is also gaining a lot of traction, a trend hastened by the pandemic. It’s a great way to boost productivity, as staff aren’t forced to take time off and spend hours sitting in a waiting room.
Mental health benefits for SMEs
The panel agreed that mental health is everyone’s responsibility. Too many people aren’t fully aware of what is in their benefits package, and how many great resources are available to address issues.
Frequently Asked Questions About Towards Total Productivity: Reimagining Benefits For Small Business
When & Where?Towards Total Productivity: Reimagining Benefits For Small Business will take place virtually via GoToWebinar on October 1, 2020 at 2:00pm EST.
There will be a 15 minute break between live sessions.
Why Virtual?The safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers, and community is our number one priority. By making this event an online experience, it eliminates the need for attendees and sponsors to travel in-person, while enabling them to still benefit from the event content.
What’s Included?Your registration provides you with access to watch the virtual keynote, all live sessions, and on-demand recorded content and product demonstrations.
How do I access?We will email you an access link to the virtual event the morning of October 1, 2020.
If you don’t see an access link in your email inbox, please check your junk folder. If you are still unable to locate the email, contact Tara Jacobs.