Here's what's keeping your HR department up at night

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Human resource professionals in Canada are most concerned with the rising costs of health benefits and a shortage of workers with the technology skills needed as the economy evolves.

MercerMarsh Benefits’ People Risk Report 2024 surveyed 4,575 HR and risk professionals across 26 countries — including 310 from Canada — and found that rising costs for health and benefits is the top concern across the board.

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Mental health challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic and declining health-care systems are all factors driving up the costs of benefits packages globally, the report found.

In Canada, the report found that benefit costs are outpacing inflation due to chronic conditions and high uptake rates, with 40 per cent of HR and risk professionals worried about how to control costs.

“Our benefit programs, which we use to protect our employees in times of need, have traditionally been focused on care for the ill,” Alex Boucher, workforce health, safety and growth leader at Mercer Canada, said.

“We now know that there’s immense value and savings in supporting preventative and more holistic care.”

According to Canada Life, benefits packages can cost small businesses up to 15 per cent of their payroll, while larger companies can expect to pay as much as 30 per cent of their payroll on these plans.

Tech skills shortages and sub-optimal HR technology rounded out the top three concerns among HR professionals in Canada.

The report found that a shortage of highly-skilled workers in fast-changing fields such as artificial intelligence have made it difficult for employers to keep up with competitors.

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“Organizations that are not tech organizations are now finding that they need tech skills,” Boucher said. “Tech is now becoming part of every workplace.”

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A lack of cybersecurity expertise in the workforce also has 39 per cent of Canadian HR professionals concerned about cyberattacks.

“There isn’t an organization that isn’t exposed to tech risk,” Boucher added.

Earlier this month, a cyberattack at London Drugs Ltd. closed the retailer for more than a week as it was “unwilling and unable” to pay a $25 million ransom.

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