It’s time to forget everything you think you know about employee benefit programs and start looking at what comes next.
Stress about relationships, physical health, financial turmoil and the future abound, and employers who want to remain preferred have to get with the program when it comes to employee health. “Employee benefits alone aren’t cutting it anymore because the general model has remained static for decades,” says Jon Chescoe, princi- pal consultant with Ascension Benefits. “If you compare that to the speed in which society has evolved, there are significant gaps.” Chescoe should know—after more than 20 years in the business, he has had plenty of time to discover what really counts in maximizing employee performance, and it isn’t what you think. A recent Gallup Poll says 84% of employees are disengaged, bored, and hungry for change in their lives. This directly affects corporate perfor- mance. To increase per- formance, you must address the specific needs of individuals within an organization. The results are compelling. “If you want to make yours a top-perform- ing organization, you need a clearly defined way to deliver mental health resources,” Chescoe says. “Helping employees stay healthy in and outside of work has a ripple effect.”
Dr. Sean Richardson, doctor in the Science & Psychology of Energy Health Management, describes an energy continuum model, which says managing stress takes a toll on energy levels and decreases performance.
“COVID magnified this problem, but it existed long before,” Chescoe says. “The most effec- tive way to maximize productivity is to address employee needs and mitigate their stressors.”
There are seven components that make up a successful “benefit of employment” package that supports robust health and high performance. Addressed in Ascension Benefits’ “Your Life” structure, these include:
- Group benefits
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Financial health
- General health
- Success and motivation
- Disability management
“To engage employees, you have to help them avoid satiation,” Chescoe says. “What excites and inspires them? Can you provide the means by which they can change their lives and become more productive at work?”
Ascension uses motivation and inspiration, education, and support to help employees and their families create real life changes, identifying the correct services and support—nutrition and fit- ness, therapy, counselling, whatever it takes—and staying connected throughout the process.
“We build the relationship and do the work of recommending suitable practitioners and resources,” Chescoe says. “If we recommend a service that is not covered by the current benefits package, we will pay for it. To make an impact, we have to think and act differently.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 500,000 working Canadians are off work every week because of mental health or illness, a figure Chescoe would like to help reduce. “What if we impact that by 1%?” he says. “Over time, the results become exponential.”