Morneau Sobeco

Morneau Sobeco

January 18, 2006 17:57 ET

Morneau Sobeco: Communications and Cost Containment the Top Benefits Priorities for 2006

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 18, 2006) - Better employee communication is the top priority by far for pension plan sponsors in 2006 while benefits plan sponsors are most concerned about controlling costs. This is the key result of Morneau Sobeco's latest 60 Second Survey which asked pension and benefits plan sponsors to identify their highest HR priority for 2006. The survey received responses from 251 organizations across Canada.

Among the pension priorities, a whopping 39% of sponsors who expressed an opinion identified better communication of their pension plan as the top priority. 25% selected improving governance. Rounding out the choices were making plan changes to contain costs, a priority chosen by 16% of respondents, changing investment policy, managers or fund options (16%) and making pension plan improvements (4%).

"In recent years, employee communication has consistently been one of the top priorities of business leaders," said Fred Vettese, Chief Actuary of Morneau Sobeco. "It is especially true now, given that the ongoing funding crisis has raised employee concerns about the security of their pensions. What is surprising is that governance is still such a high priority five years after the governance phenomenon kicked into high gear."

On the benefits side, 35% of respondents who expressed a view cited containment of health care costs as their biggest priority. The other four choices were: wellness and health promotion (19%), better communication (18%), redesign of the benefits package (16%) and improving claims management of the disability program (12%).

The other major finding of the survey was that Western Canada is markedly different from the rest of Canada in their priorities. While 16% of all Canadian pension plan sponsors said that making plan changes to contain costs was their highest priority, only 2% of sponsors based in Western Canada chose this response. "This might be indicative of the boom times in Alberta, where the current focus is to attract and retain employees, not cut costs," said Mr. Vettese.

The West and East also diverged in their views on governance as a priority with 42% of respondents from Atlantic Canada choosing it as their top 2006 priority compared to just 9% of respondents from Western Canada. Also striking was the disparity in views on the importance of wellness and health promotion. While 18% of all Canadian sponsors cited this as their highest priority in 2006, only 5% of Western Canadians did so.

Morneau Sobeco is the largest Canadian-owned pension and benefits consulting and outsourcing firm, providing services to organizations across Canada and in the United States. The firm employs approximately 950 professionals and support staff in 11 cities across North America. Morneau Sobeco's Web-based "60 Second Survey" seeks instant input from pension and benefits plan sponsors on high profile issues.

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