How mental health benefits are being prioritised by employers

Self-care, resiliency training and virtual therapy prioritised by employers

How mental health benefits are being prioritised by employers

Mental health takes the top spot in employers’ priorities when it comes to employee benefits, according a recent MercerMarsh Benefits study.

Surveying 373 employers, the study reported that 63% of the respondents belonged to companies that were in the private sector while 25% were from the public sector and 12% were non-profit. 59% had employees whose average ages were between 35 and 44. 40% of the companies only had 0%-25% of employees belonging to minorities or diverse communities.

Around 64% of the surveyed employers offered anti-stigma and education regarding self-care. 57% offered their employees network access to virtual therapy. 49% provided their managers with mental health training. 48% gave online assessments as well as training in resiliency.

While this focus on mental health is progressive, there is still a noticeable gap between the benefits that employees want for themselves. A study by Forbes Advisor showed that the benefit that employees want most is employer-covered healthcare followed by life insurance, pension and retirement plans, and mandatory paid time-off. Mental health assistance was ranked 5th.

Despite almost 60% that provided ergonomic assessments and 55% that offered telemedicine in support of physical wellness, only 33% of the surveyed employers provided health assessments. 28% of the employers gave stand-alone integrated health & wellbeing platforms which had their own incentives and challenges. 45% provided subsidies for fitness.

Preventive health and screening tools are what Gen Z employees tend to look for but genetic testing as a tool for screening was only adopted by less than 5% of the employer respondents.

Other benefits that employers offered included financial wellness through a discount program, which was offered by 59% of the respondents. 51% also offered budgeting and other kinds of financial wellness education and support while only 36% provided financial coaching.

Benefits that are much more inclusive are still considered to be a growing market as only 32% of the employers offered fertility benefits and 18% gave gender affirmation benefits. Allocation for adoption and surrogacy are only offered by less than 10% of the respondents. Less than 10% provided child or eldercare programs or applications despite half of Canadian employees taking the roles of caregivers.

“Employees receiving such benefits are primarily still non-union hourly, salaried and executives, but employers also need to consider union hourly, contractors and other employee groups,” said MercerMarsh Benefits in its report.

The survey involved companies within various industries such as transportation and warehousing, health care and social assistance, computer, systems design and related services, professional, scientific and technical services, finance and insurance, utilities, retail trade, mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing among others.