Canadian small businesses value employee health and retirement plans, Manulife reports

Focus on providing more than just a pay cheque to boost productivity

Waterloo (Oct. 4, 2012) – Satisfied employees are more productive and focused according to Canadian small business owners surveyed for the second annual Manulife Financial Small Business Research Report, and providing health and retirement benefits are a key component to boost employee productivity.

Released today, Manulife Financial’s research report measured the attitudes that more than 1,101 small business owners across the country have towards their employee health benefit and retirement plans, showing that 95 per cent of respondents make the connection between satisfaction and productivity. Providing employee benefits is a key tool in building employee satisfaction.

“Health benefits and retirement plans can have a significant positive impact on the productivity of a small business owner’s company,” said Marc Avaria, Vice-president, Group Small Business, Manulife Financial. “Investing in your employees will also help attract and retain the best talent, all of which ultimately support the success of the company.”

Employees who receive health benefits are not the only ones who appear to be satisfied. Small business owners say they are equally satisfied with having a company health and retirement benefits plan. In fact, over 7 in 10 small business owners say that having a company health and retirement benefits plan is as much for their own well-being as for their employees’. Furthermore, small business owners believe that offering health benefits to employees serves as strong incentive for workers. Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents believe a health benefits plan is more effective than paying employees a higher wage.

Small business owners cite a variety of reasons that motivated them to offer an employee benefits plan. The top reason is recruitment and retention, with 28 per cent saying they use these benefits to attract and retain employees. Small business owners also provide health benefits as a competitive advantage, with 17 per cent saying that they offer these benefits to keep up with the competition.

Likewise, company-sponsored retirement plans are also excellent recruitment and retention tools. According to the research results, small business owners who provide a retirement plan cite a variety of motivations, including encouraging retirement savings (22 per cent) and retaining employees (21 per cent). Of those who do not offer a retirement plan to employees, 43 per cent say they would be motivated to do so in order to reduce turnover, 38 per cent cite the benefit from tax incentives, and 31 per cent the need to attract top-quality staff.

The report shows that 41 per cent of small business owners agree that they have a responsibility to ensure that their employees save for retirement. “The reality is that millions of small business employees in Canada don’t have access to a workplace retirement savings plan and are not saving enough for retirement. Small business owners have an opportunity to educate themselves on existing retirement programs and the new Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) to determine the best option suited to them,” Mr. Avaria said. “Reinforcing the fact that your company is supporting your employees’ financial future is a great means to boost loyalty to your business.”

  • 98% of all companies with employees in Canada are small businesses and nearly half (48 per cent) of the working population is employed by a small business(1,2)
  • 74% of small business owners feel an obligation to take care of their employees(3)
  • 79% of small business owners agree that having a company-sponsored retirement plan is as much for their benefit as it is for their employees
  • 66% of small business owners believe offering a health benefits plan will help their business

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. In 2012, we celebrate 125 years of providing clients strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients. We also provide asset management services to institutional customers. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$514 billion (US$504 billion) as at June 30, 2012. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

About the Manulife Financial Small Business Research Report

The Manulife Financial Small Business Research Report is based on the results of an online survey of 1,101 Canadian small business owners and senior managers across industry sectors and regions. The research was conducted by the Rogers Connect Market Research group of Rogers Publishing Ltd., on behalf of Manulife Financial.

The survey was fielded in April and May 2012. For the purpose of this research, “small business” was defined as having between two and 100 employees. The margin of error is �3.0%, 19 times out of 20.


1. Industry Canada/Statistics Canada (2011):

2. Except where noted, for the purpose of this research, “small business” was defined as having between two and 100 employees

3. Companies with 11 to 100 employees