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By Peter Menyasz
Canadian employers aren’t adopting formal workplace wellness strategies despite clear evidence that they pay for themselves in increased productivity, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.
A survey of employers found that fewer than one-third have formal wellness programs despite research showing that productivity lost to depression and anxiety alone costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars each year, the CBC said.
“Investing in a comprehensive health and wellness program is an essential part of a healthy work environment and makes good business sense,” Allison Cowan, director of total rewards and workplace health research with the Ottawa-based think tank, said Dec. 5 in a statement.
The survey of 205 employers was conducted between January and March 2016.
Nearly half of employers surveyed, 48 percent, reported taking only an informal approach to wellness that involves interventions less integrated with other human resources initiatives and not based on higher-level planning, while 20 percent said they offer no wellness initiatives at all, the report said.
Other findings included:
The report cites several case studies of employers with strong wellness programs, including telephone utility Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corp.
The company offers its more than 3,700 employees a range of wellness initiatives and programs, including presentations to staff, healthy menu options in cafeterias, flexible wellness spending accounts, lifestyle centers, and online training modules.
One of SaskTel's most innovative programs is All About Balance, an in-house employee resiliency program that offers six hour-long information sessions over a six-week period on self-care that are aimed at helping employees shape behavior, form new healthy habits, and become more resilient to stress. Innovative features include having employees track their activities and requiring them to commit 30 minutes of their own time each week, which is matched by the employer.
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For more information on Canadian HR law and regulation, see the Canada primer.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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