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Trends & Tactics

Time to do things differently in the workplace

Posted by Medavie Blue Cross on November 12, 2021

Do we need to break the mould when it comes to our current operating models, work arrangements and health benefit plans?

Crisis is a catalyst for change and over the past year-and-a-half we have witnessed tremendous change in many forms, from the transition to remote and hybrid work to the acceleration of virtual care.

So, do we stick with the status quo, or seize this opportunity to challenge the norms and question how we operate, where we work and what benefits we offer? We believe the choice is clear. Now is the time to reimagine the workplace of the future.

Our senior leaders and in-house subject matter experts have been tracking the trends, analyzing the data and getting feedback from our clients to develop smart solutions that are not only relevant and responsive to today’s workplace realities, but can sustain continued uncertainty and change. Here are some of their insights and the initiatives we have undertaken to help employers navigate this ever-shifting landscape.

Evolving Workplace

“Staying current, focusing on organizational transformation and modernization is essential to growth and relevance, whether you are a large or small Canadian enterprise.” Derek Weir, Manager, Optional Benefits

Today’s employees are looking for flexibility and choice in where and how they work. At Medavie Blue Cross, we’ve embraced flexibility to give our employees across the country greater choice in our workplace of the future.

“We believe we have to be more flexible in not only where (employees) want to work, but how many hours they want to work.” Bernard Lord, CEO Medavie

In line with this, employers exploring new ways to help employees stay engaged, supported and connected, no matter where they work.

“Working remotely cannot dilute culture. Employers can maintain rapport and trust through compassion, regular engagement, two-way feedback channels and by making time for personal connections.” Greg Bambury, Chief Human Resources Officer


Proactive employers are also focused on a growth mindset culture, where people are encouraged to try new approaches and learn from them.

“Ensuring organizational resilience means sourcing, hiring, promoting and supporting people who are curious and committed to creating positive change.” Greg Bambury, Chief Human Resources Officer

This includes building leadership skills and equipping managers practical tools and techniques to lead employees, whether they are at home or at the office.

“Leading remotely is a skill that needs to be fostered. We have to think of creative ways to connect to employees. Communication is critical.” Alaina MacKenzie, Regional Vice President, Business Development and member of the Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey Advisory Panel

Modernizing Benefit Plans

Survey says: A Medavie Blue Cross-commissioned survey by Leger found that over 80% of Canadian companies had added some form of optional benefits to their employee health plans, and of those who haven’t, 90% are open to providing them in the near future.

Benefits that were once thought of as nice-to-haves, such as optional benefits and personal wellness and/or health spending accounts, are now becoming a standard part of a broader, more flexible approach to plan design. Not only does this give employees the choice and control they want over their health benefits, it puts them in the driver’s seat of their health care.

“We are always looking for ways to reimagine our benefit plans to best support the needs of Canada’s diverse workforce.” Derek Weir, Manager, Optional Benefits

Insurers like Medavie Blue Cross are staying on trend by developing simplified, personalized products, services and processes that are as intuitive as online shopping. This enables employees to manage their health benefits and receive health care ― on their terms.

Similarly, insurers are developing employer sponsored and employee paid solutions for all budgets that are both easy to administer and easy to access. Our Optional Benefits product, for example, is a turnkey solution that adds values to benefit plans at no cost or work for the employer. It uses a leading-edge digital insurance platform that allows employees to explore options and purchase coverage entirely online, within minutes.

Virtual Care

Survey says: 43% of plan members have received health care virtually since the start of the pandemic and 68% would be willing to receive virtual health care services after the pandemic, according to the 2021 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey.

Recognizing that virtual care is here to stay, insurers are collaborating with service providers and investing in new health care innovations and technologies.

“We’ve seen massive, accelerated adoption of virtual care, leading to a ‘Crossing the Chasm’ on market acceptance which is amazing. We have moved from: “I have to access care virtually because of the pandemic”, to “Why wouldn’t I access care virtually and what else can I get virtually?” Colleen Adams, Manager, Product Strategy & Digital Solutions

Survey says: A survey by Mercer found that more than 82% or working Canadians want to continue using telemedicine services, including wellbeing apps to help find and access health care.

We recently added a meditation and mindfulness app to the suite of innovative services we offer through our digital storefront, Connected Care, and made pharmacogenetic testing part of our standard plan design.

Inclusive Benefits

Protecting the health and wellbeing of employees often starts with fostering an organizational culture that promotes openness, understanding and a sense of belonging where everyone can bring their true selves to work.

As a complement to this, plans are evolving to offer inclusive health benefits. For example, we recently introduced a Gender Affirmation Benefit to support employees who are transitioning.

It’s one of many ways employers can meet employees’ unique needs with meaningful support and create a resilient, loyal and productive workforce for the future.

We have another Insights blog on how employers can support their employees’ return to work and ease their re-entry anxiety:

We also invite you to view articles and recordings of our senior leaders and resident health benefit specialists in conversation with our service partners and national media on the Future of Work.

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