February 4, 2020

Canada, Toronto


  • Nearly 4 in 10 employers believe digital health benefits will help them retain employees
  • Over one quarter of workers say they would be less likely to move if their employer invested in digital health benefits

According to the inaugural ‘Health on Demand’ study, 54% of Canadian employers plan to invest more in digital health solutions over the next five years.


The survey, which polled more than 1,000 workers and 100 employers in Canada as well as over 16,500 workers and 1300 employers in 13 markets around the world, suggests most employers are committed to having a culture focused on health and wellbeing. It also suggests that employers believe digital health solutions can be a critical way by which to help their people get healthier – as well as a way to satisfy their desire for more convenient and affordable healthcare.


The study, conducted by Mercer Marsh Benefits, Mercer and Oliver Wyman, found that while specific attitudes differ around the world, in Canada, half (50%) of workers are excited by a forward looking concept of health that very much includes digital health innovation. Close to half (48%) also say they would have more confidence in a new solution if it were promoted or sponsored by their employer.


“The findings from the ‘Health on Demand’ survey confirm our belief that employers looking to build a workplace culture of well-being and to improve talent retention should consider digital health investments,” said Hervé Balzano, Mercer Marsh Benefits International Leader and Mercer President, Health. “Otherwise they risk being left behind in today’s competitive global labour markets.”


Results in Canada


The study’s Canadian results also support the finding that investment in digital health solutions pays dividends for employers. When asked specifically about digital health solutions, six in 10 Canadian employers surveyed believed they would have either some or a lot of impact on staff energy levels, and nearly four in 10 said they would help them retain staff.


“This study shows what we, and employers, have known for a long time: investment in digital health benefits helps to bolster the bottom line,” says Julie Duchesne, Mercer Marsh Benefits Leader, Canada. “Health benefits compare favourably with other benefits when it comes to influence on employment decisions. It’s no wonder that more than half of Canadian employers expect to invest more in digital health over the next five years.”


It’s not just employers that endorse digital health benefits: employees do, too. Over a quarter of Canadian workers surveyed said they would be less likely to consider a move if their employer promoted, or sponsored, digital health solutions.


And Canadian employees are excited. The majority of workers surveyed found that a vision of a digital healthcare future described to them was not just believable, but appealing and exciting.


To some extent, this is due to a growth in Canadian workers’ trust in digital health solutions. Close to half of Canadian workers report being ‘much more’ or ‘more’ confident in digital health and well-being solutions provided by their employer. A majority say they are willing to share their personal health information if it means they will receive the highest quality medical care, and a similar number say they would share their data in order to receive personally tailored healthcare services. When surveyed, 7 in 10 Canadian workers said they trust in their employers to keep their personal health information secure.


Results worldwide


The study’s results  from individual countries and around the world revealed a number of distinct preferences. Respondents were asked not only if they would be willing to try a solution, but also how valuable it would be to them and their families. The solution that the most workers worldwide said they would value is an app that “helps find the right doctor or medical care when and where needed.” In the UK, the most popular solution was wearable technology to help self-manage chronic conditions. And in China, where 76% of workers say they are responsible for the healthcare of a family member (compared to an average of 53% across all 13 countries), the most valuable digital health solution was “companion robots that help elderly relatives stay healthy at home”, the solution that ranked near or last in each of the 12 other countries surveyed.


For a list of solutions in order of value to respondents in Canada, see Figure 1. For a graph of the average number of solutions that workers are willing to try by market, see Figure 2.


Interest in digital health solutions is part of a broader focus on workplace culture of health. Clearly, employers believe in the importance of employee well-being; a full 95% say their organization will invest more or the same amount in health and well-being initiatives over the next five years. Further, 71% believe that their organization cares about their workers’ well-being. When workers were asked the same question, however, just 50% said they believe their employer cares about its workers. Survey results suggest a way to help close this perception gap between employers and workers. According to the ‘Health on Demand’ findings, the wider the range of health and well-being resources an employer offers – from insurance coverages to subsidized nutrition or exercise programs –  the more likely workers are to feel supported and energized, and the less likely they are to leave their employer. Of the workers who are offered 10 or more such benefits, 75% believe their employers cares about them, compared to just 43% of those offered five or fewer.


To learn more and download the ’Health on Demand’ report, please visit


Figure 1 - Digital Health Solutions Most Valuable to Workers Across Canada

Source: ‘Health on Demand’



Source: ‘Health on Demand’


About the Health on Demand survey
Worker and senior decision maker surveys were fielded in June 2019 in seven mature and six growth markets across North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Responses were gathered from 16,564 workers and 1,300 decision makers at organizations of all sizes. Workers included full-time and part-time employees and contract, freelance and gig workers. The margin of error is +/-0.8% for the global worker responses and +/-2.7% for the global employer responses.


About Mercer Marsh Benefits
Mercer Marsh Benefits provides clients with a single source for managing the costs, people risks and complexities of employee benefits. It is a combination of Mercer and Marsh local offices around the world, plus country correspondents who have been selected based on specific criteria. Our benefits professionals located in 135 countries and servicing clients in more than 150 countries, are deeply knowledgeable about their local markets. Through our locally established businesses, we have a unique common platform which allows us to serve clients with global consistency and locally unique solutions. Mercer and Marsh are two of the businesses of Marsh & McLennan, together with Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman.


About Mercer Canada
Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 75,000 colleagues and annualized revenue approaching $17 billion through its market-leading companies including MarshGuy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerCanada.

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