Scott Wallace PhD
Feb 26 · 5 min read
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What value are great benefits when employees don’t understand or use them? And how does this affect the ROI of your benefits spend?

An Avail Workplace Mental Health Industry Report | February 2019

The Issue

Human resource and benefits professionals spend a great deal of time and effort to secure the best possible employee benefits but, without a strong benefits communication process, it can be difficult to get employees onboard. The problem is, companies are not doing enough to communicate the value of their programs so that employees are aware of them or understand their options. Too many firms often limit their communication efforts to specific times, like during recruitment, onboarding, or open enrollment periods.

Employers spend a great deal of time and money making sure that their employees have the best possible benefits. It’s all a part of making sure employees are happy and healthy to be productive at work. As well, a recent workplace survey, conducted by MetLife indicated that three out of five employees believe that the benefits offered by their employer are the reason they stay there.¹ The survey also indicated that more than half of all employees would pay more for benefits if this meant they would have a better choice in offerings.

Based on the most recent research, and despite cost containment efforts in recent years, employer spend on benefits programs for employees represents a significant spend.

A 2015 benchmarking survey conducted by The Conference Board of Canada shows that the average cost of providing benefits for employees is $8,330 per full-time equivalent.² With the prevalence of chronic disease and incidence of mental health issues increasing, the costs of benefits have never been higher. These figures do not even take into consideration the many other perks and benefits that companies invest in to make the workplace better, like flexible scheduling, corporate discount programs, and casual work attire.

Educating employees about their benefits is a high priority for 65% of organizations — nearly two in five organizations have budgets specifically devoted to benefits communication and of those organizations, 25% are planning to increase those budgets in 2016. Despite prioritizing benefits communication, only 19% of employers say their employees have an elevated level of understanding their benefits.²

According to studies by ADP, a leading provider of human resources management and payroll services, 80 percent of HR decision-makers think it’s important for employees to understand their full benefit options. Unfortunately, they estimate that only around 60 percent of their employees do so.³ This indicates a breakdown between the expectations of HR leaders and the reality that many employees don’t understand the value of their employer-sponsored benefits.

Where technology steps in

The good news is that in today’s technology-driven world, there are multiple ways to communicate employee benefits with your workforce. Digital communication includes emails, text messaging, instant messaging, mobile apps, and more. For example, during the first part of the year, employees think about getting fit, losing weight, or developing other wellness habits. This is an opportune time to share information about your company’s wellness program, mental health counseling, financial management, fitness, nutrition counseling, your EAP, and related wellness initiatives.

mHealth platforms such as Avail provide employers with an employee-friendly way of increasing engagement in understanding their mental and physical healthcare benefits by providing employees with enhanced awareness of wellness care options, identification, and awareness of the need to utilize these services, and direct appointment booking to the employer’s care network. The payoff is a healthier, happier employee and a significantly improved ROI on the benefit dollar spent.

Consider how you can get benefit information out to your employees on a regular basis to remind them of all the perks that they have available to them. Do your employees know what benefits your company provides? Do you communicate this to existing employees or is it something they only see during recruitment and onboarding?

Optimize your benefit spend

For most organizations, the question isn’t if you’re experiencing lost time and productivity due to disability and mental health issues. The question is, how much?

It’s no secret that poor mental health is draining Canadian companies of billions in payroll costs, talent management expenses and lost productivity. Canadian companies lose an estimated $16.6 billion in productivity per year due to workers calling in sick, as a result of mental health issues. This reflects 500,000 workers away from work each week due to mental health issues and is a trend that many expect to increase in severity, as more employees report higher levels of stress and other mental health concerns. In fact, one in four workers has left his or her job due to work-related stress, according to a 2017 Monster Canada study.⁵ This makes finding ways to educate employees about their well-being, stress and work-life balance, and resilience, of great concern to employers. Look at it as a simple ROI: Would you rather pay a few dollars per employee for a preventive mental health solution that provides connection to your approved care network, or $12,500 in lost salary for an employee taking a short-term (or longer) absence due to preventable causes of mental illness (based on an averaged $50,000 salary).6

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About Avail

Avail is a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) based holistic well-being solution for organizations and their employees. Avail’s proactive, mobile-first, anytime platform uses clinical and behavioural data-driven insights to provide employees with personalized well-being profiles that are increasingly refined to reflect changes in well-being as circumstances change. Each profile aims to equip employees with insight and actionable skills to achieve optimal mental well-being, strengthened resilience and a mindset that promotes high engagement and performance.

For employees with untreated mental health problems or who want to improve their mental wellbeing without stigma or privacy concerns, Avail’s Care Navigator recommends options ranging from psychoeducational content (e.g. articles, videos) to professional care from our national provider network. Care resources can be augmented with any care options your organization provides. For administrators, Avail’s aggregate analytics and insights track your organization’s care service utilization and identifies trends in the mental health and well-being of your workforce.

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1. MetLife Report. The Benefits Paradox of 2017: How Companies Build Robust Benefit Packages Without Breaking the Bank. Retrieved from:

2. Conference Board of Canada. Benefits Report 2015. Retrieved from:

3. ADP. ADP Health Benefits Report: 2016. Retrieved from

4. Mental health in the workplace: What employers can do? Ty Arslan. Retrieved from:

5. The Stress Test: One-in-four Canadians has left a job due to stress. Retrieved from:

6. Sanofi Canada. 2016 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey. Retrieved from:


Avail works with you to observe changes in your mood, energy, stress, sleep quality and more, and then suggests personalized action plans and support resources to help you improve your well-being and be your best you.

Scott Wallace PhD

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Avail works with you to observe changes in your mood, energy, stress, sleep quality and more, and then suggests personalized action plans and support resources to help you improve your well-being and be your best you.

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