Employee health: Trends, insights, and solutions

Manulife Group Benefits has identified top health trends impacting the Canadian workforce by analyzing aggregate claims data and our Wellness Report survey results.
Some key findings:

  • On average, organizations are losing 49 days of productivity per employee per year due to absenteeism and presenteeism.
  • Use of anti-obesity medications among Canadian workers has grown substantially, increasing 42.3% year-over-year and a total of 91.9% over the last 3 years.
  • Use of substance use disorder medications increased by 17.2% year-over-year.

We add expert commentary on these trends so that organizations like yours can help positively influence employee health through your wellness programs and benefits plans.

With this report, we’re giving employers and their teams information they can use to make meaningful organizational health improvements. We're also building a new digital experience in partnership with Canadian tech scale up League, and collaborating with Aeroplan to offer a rewards program that offers points for health and benefits-related activities. Together these offerings show how we’re striving to be a true health partner for the Canadians we serve.

Claims trends uncover challenges. Experts offer solutions.

Ashesh Desai is Head of Group Benefits for Manulife Canada which provides health benefits to over 27,000 employers across the country and more than 5 million Canadians. 

In this Report on Employee Health, we look back at 2023 and identify the leading trends as revealed by our aggregate drug and disability claims data. I expect it will come as no surprise to you that what we’re seeing – the health trends and patterns that are surfacing through our claims data – is in many ways a reflection of the challenges and issues Canadians have been dealing with for some time now.

If you follow the news and other sources of current events, it’s no secret that the topics of mental health, substance use, diabetes, and shortages of certain drugs have all been making headlines to varying degrees. We read about it, we hear about it, and it comes up in conversations with friends and family.

These issues might not be new to you. But I believe the expert commentary and insights we’re sharing, combined with direct plan member feedback gathered through our annual Wellness Report survey, will be new and noteworthy. When you dig into it, I expect the issues we’re tracking will reflect the same trends that your organization may be experiencing.

Ultimately, this report has been created so that, together, we can better support the people who are so important to your success. I am confident the interpretations and recommendations we’ve compiled paint a clear picture of actions you can take and programs you can implement to help mitigate risk for your organization.

From our report:

Top health trends impacting the workforce

On average, organizations are losing 49 days of productivity per employee per year due to absenteeism and presenteeism.1 However, the top 3 performing organizations are gaining 13 additional days of productivity per employee compared to their counterparts.1

The surging demand for anti-obesity drugs

The use of anti-obesity drugs has grown substantially. Our aggregate drug claims data shows a 42.3% increase year-over-year in the number of people being treated with these drugs in 2023.2

Substance use disorder: More employees are seeking treatment

Substance use disorder and mental health challenges are prevalent in Canada, affecting workers and workplaces across industries.3 In 2023, there was a 17.2% year-over-year increase in claims related to substance use disorders.2