How to Support Employees Throughout Their Big Life Moments

Pregnant employee with coworkers

This post was written by Erin Bury, CEO of Willful

Prior to becoming Willful’s CEO, I was the head of a 15-person creative agency that helped tech startups with communications and design. I put a big focus on company culture at that agency, and really cared about not only the quality of work, but the quality of life of my employees.

Over my six years at the agency, I watched a group of mostly millennial employees go through major milestones, from getting engaged, to getting married, to having their first (and sometimes second!) child. During that time I also went through big life moments myself, like buying my first condo and getting married.

The right benefits plan can support employees through these big life moments—but not all benefits plans are designed equally. If you’re trying to provide value through your benefits plan to team members, regardless of which life milestones they’re going through, here are a few ideas:

Provide flexible benefits, customizable for each employee

At my agency we implemented Honeybee Benefits for a few reasons. First, we wanted a solution that was digital-first and that our millennial employees—who were used to the design and convenience of Uber, Amazon, and Wealthsimple—would love using.

Second, we wanted to give our team members a flexible program that would suit everyone’s lives and life stages, both current and future. Flexibility means more than the ability to add a spouse to your benefits plan. With Honeybee, it means being able to personalize your medical and dental plans with different deductibles and coinsurance, since your needs for this type of coverage typically depend on your personal situation and life stage.

Flexibility also means having access to a Health Account that allows you to spend benefits dollars on the health categories that meet your unique needs, like contact lenses for those requiring vision correction or orthopaedic shoes for those with foot pain.

Honeybee’s flexible accounts also allowed my employees to spend in areas that mattered to them at that particular time in their life—for example, prenatal massages when pregnant, chiropractic visits after an injury, or appointments with a therapist when going through a period of stressful life change.

Go beyond traditional benefits

In 2019, it’s not enough to just offer the traditional life, medical, and dental benefits for employees. Companies like Shopify have snack walls and free lunches, and every company is competing for talent by upping their total compensation package.

One way we added value through Honeybee was the Allowance Account, a spending account funded by us which covered various lifestyle expenses. We chose to fund a set amount for transportation or fitness every month, which I used on many a Barry’s Bootcamp class while I was on my pre-wedding fitness regime.

As part of another initiative, we also implemented a unique vacation savings program that appealed to our millennial employees.

As an employer I love being able to provide these types of benefits because it shows my team that I care about their time outside of work, and it allows me to retain great employees.

Offer added value

Typically benefits platforms aren’t something you log into on the regular—you use them when you have to submit a claim, or to check your coverage. But Honeybee also adds value outside of the claims experience, by providing employees with great deals and discounts for relevant products and services as well.

For instance, in the Honeybee app you can access deals for prescription glasses, fitness classes and more, including exclusive discounts on platforms like Willful. Many of these Honeybee offers recognize the key life moments that your team members may be going through. For example, life events like getting married, buying property, or having a child are the perfect time to create or update your will with Willful.

Using our online estate planning platform, you can create your legal will in less than 20 minutes, for a fraction of the cost of visiting a lawyer. Willful’s standard cost ranges from $99-$249, but if you’re a Honeybee user you have access to an exclusive discount through the app!

Provide support when it’s needed most

While unique benefits like fitness allowances and access to discounted products and services are great for helping employees through exciting life events, a good benefits plan should also help team members through tough times.

Our Honeybee plan provided access to Akira, a telemedicine app that makes it easy to chat live with a doctor, and also provided an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan) designed to help employees cope with challenging life events, such as the death of a loved one.

Unfortunately we always have to be prepared for the unexpected—one of the reasons I’m so passionate about ensuring Canadians have an estate plan in place with Willful.

Whether you’re just setting up your benefits plan for the first time, or you’re looking to switch to a plan that’s better suited to your employees, remember to keep it flexible, especially if you’re managing a multi-generational workforce. One-size-fits-all benefits don’t work in today’s workforce, and as employers we have to adapt in order to retain top talent.

Erin Bury is the CEO of Willful, an estate planning platform that helps Canadians create a legal will online for a fraction of the cost of visiting a lawyer. If you don’t have an estate plan, get started today at