Most Canadian workers would give up higher pay for good benefits

by Leo Almazora12 Oct 2021

The continuing toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing Canadian workers to put their health and wellness first – even if it means getting a smaller paycheque.

That’s one of the key findings from a recent poll of 1,001 working Canadians conducted by Ipsos on behalf of RBC Insurance.

More than two thirds of respondents (68%) said they’d rather take a job with a good benefits plan than accept one that pays more, but doesn’t offer benefits.

"It's been such a challenging and unpredictable year for so many working Canadians, so it's no surprise to see more employees prioritizing their health and wellness needs alongside other job considerations," said Julie Gaudry, Head of Group Benefits, RBC Insurance.

The poll found 40% of working Canadians reported a decline in their physical health over the course of the pandemic. Workers polled cited numerous factors impacting their overall health, including the inability to socialize with friends, family, or co-workers (72%) and work-related stress (58%).

Compounding the issue is the limitations people have faced in seeking help. Among Canadians with chronic health issues, 63% said the inability to visit a doctor or healthcare clinic has had a negative impact on their health; that number goes down among those without chronic health issues, but is still significant at 47%.

Compared to those without group benefits or private coverage, workers living with a disability or a chronic health issue who had group benefits or private coverage were more likely to have access to virtual care tools (48% and 51%, respectively). Respondents with chronic health conditions were also more likely to agree that using virtual tools to connect with mental health support (64%) than those without chronic health issues (50%).

All in all, most working Canadians with a chronic health issue or disability (58%) agree that without their workplace benefits plan, their condition would get worse. That could be feeding an increase in workers’ appreciation for their employers, with 68% of working Canadians saying they have positive feelings for their employer, an 8% rise since 2019.

Still, there’s room for improvement. Four in 10 working Canadians with chronic health issues or disabilities said they’ve experienced challenges accessing their employee benefits due to their unique needs. Among younger Canadians aged 18 to 35 years old, 49% said their benefits plan hasn’t fully addressed their health and wellness needs in the past year.

“With the broader recent trend of people leaving their roles as a result of job dissatisfaction, businesses must consider the value of benefits to better support employee mental and financial health,” Gaudry said. “Younger workers in particular are reevaluating their personal needs and taking more proactive steps to address their mental health concerns.”