The Evolving Nature of Care During COVID: How Your Organization Can Benefit from Innovations to Employee Benefit Plans

A guest post by Brent Voisey and Haley Bentham, who are from our Community Learning sponsor, OASSIS

For most people, employee benefits seem dull and boring. Ask my kids what I do for a living, and they will tell you, “I’m not sure, but it has something to do with benefits.” This is after many, many minutes of telling them about the work we do for our not-for-profit clients. 

I’ve been consistent over the years in my proclamation that benefits are exciting, and that I love the work we do on behalf of our member organizations. Most people outside of our sector smile and say how nice it is that I’m passionate about what I do but, in the end, I don’t think they truly believe me. After all, he is speaking about benefits! While I know our clients do believe me, and while that matters a great deal, please indulge us a few minutes of your time to explain.

We’ll also update you on some very important changes that I am seeing with benefit offerings today.

How have group benefits evolved?

Did you know that employee benefits were not widespread until the 1900s? By the start of the nineteenth century, European unions, private groups and mutual aid societies formed collective protections for families in case of the death of their household provider. As the Industrial Revolution grew, collective protections became more widespread in response to the increase in workplace injuries.

By the 1940s, employers began to adopt health insurance plans to bolster employee retention and remain competitive beyond wages. In the 1980s, the first Canadian company introduced flex benefits for their employees, sparking widespread adoption throughout the country. However, despite the initial appeal of flex benefits, this proved to be an administrative nightmare for all but the larger organizations that had robust Human Resources departments (and even for them!).

As the 21st century progresses, group benefits are evolving at unprecedented rates — with changes hastened by the impacts of COVID-19. As the Canadian healthcare model becomes increasingly patient-centric, technology-based services and virtual offerings have become ubiquitous. At the same time, opportunities for increased personalization are also emerging as virtual services provide Canadians with easy and accessible care. As well, preventative and predictive diagnostics are increasingly being used to precede treatment.

As the history indicates, many years often pass in between innovations in the benefits industry. Like in many other aspects of modern life, COVID and other factors have resulted in unprecedented change in how we live and the supports that so many of us require at this unique moment in history.  Those working to provide employee benefits are now tasked with addressing such complex needs such as mental health supports and virtual care, all while keeping benefit plans affordable.

How has OASSIS adapted?

At OASSIS, we remain at the forefront of the ever-changing world of group benefits to ensure our member organizations receive comprehensive, first-class care. Our broad range of services emphasizes accessibility and preventative care for Canadians. For example, employers can invest in their staff’s health with dietician coaching and fitness programs to protect and improve long-term wellness.

As the pandemic has both introduced and compounded physical and mental health issues, organizations can shield themselves from instability through virtual care. Organizations retain efficiency when employees can access consultations, prescriptions, counselling and more within minutes from their homes. Beyond this, when care is easily accessible, employees are far more likely to be proactive about their health; this reduces potential Long Term Disability claims.

Amongst services mentioned above, OASSIS provides the following virtual services:

  • Employee and Family Assistance Program with additional Employer Supports
  • Virtual Medical Doctor Visits
  • Online Pharmacy with a low Dispensing Fee
  • Online Expert Led Mental Health and Wellbeing Video library curated for your organization and directly promoted to Employees
  • Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) 12-week treatment sessions

While skipping lines and travel time are excellent perks, the pandemic has demonstrated how paramount virtual healthcare is for organizations. Employees should not have to risk their health or anyone else’s to see a healthcare professional.

How do we build a benefits plan?

We offer each of our services in the spirit of providing employees with the tools and control necessary to be well. These resources act as building blocks amidst our benefit plans, and we aim to curate each plan based on an organization’s needs. For instance, our Made 2 Measure benefits package allows for maximum flexibility and customization for smaller organizations (5 to 20 employees). In simple terms, employers can select options from the outlined mandatory and optional sections, just as you might build a meal at a restaurant. The Made 2 Measure plan includes: Life/AD&D Insurance Benefit, Prescription Medication Benefits, Extended Health Care Benefits, Dental and Short and Long Term Disability.

What does the future hold for group benefits?

Employees, regardless of demographic, will continue to want traditional benefits. However, the manner of these benefits and the nature in which we administer them will continue to evolve. As Millennials become the majority of the workforce and the eldest of Gen Z enter the workplace, the emphasis on virtual, accessible and inclusive care will continue to grow. People want to see coverage that considers the needs of a modern, diverse population. Coverage for what are currently less common options, such as pharmacogenetic testing or gender affirmation surgery will become more prevalent.

We have provided a brief overview of the evolution of benefits and a snapshot of where we stand today to help you understand your options and take full advantage of your employee benefits plan. Since their inception, benefits plans have responded to policies, crises, historical events, medical and technological advances and societal attitudes. Now is no different, as benefits plans continue to evolve and adapt to the unique circumstances we find ourselves facing in 2022.

The exciting part for me comes from analyzing the data and watching for possible innovations, both of which can be used to provide tangible help to real people. At the end of the day, benefits plans truly do help people, which is why the work I do is so meaningful. What makes it even better is offering this assistance to the nonprofit sector, where we help those people who spend their days helping others.

Interested in knowing more about what we do at OASSIS, and how we can help you design a plan that best supports your employees within your budget? Contact Brent Voisey at or 1-888-233-5580, 302.

Looking to learn more about Laridae’s Community Learning events? Visit the events calendar or get in touch below: