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HR Transformation

Dream + League: a partnership to build healthier, happier people.

What does one of Canada’s leading real estate companies and League have in common? Lots. Including a people-first philosophy, a belief in the power of high-touch services, and a shared vision for a healthy, happy workforce.

What does one of Canada’s leading real estate companies and League have in common? Lots. Including a people-first philosophy, a belief in the power of high-touch services, and a shared vision for a healthy, happy workforce. 

So when the company was looking for ways to expand their health benefits offering, League was a natural fit. Dream already had an extensive plan, but needed a partner to help them take it to the next level. The goal: to give their employees an enhanced digital experience with a focus on wellness, plus new offerings like telemedicine, virtual care, critical illness optional coverage and mental well-being resources. They also needed a tool for real-time data analytics to better understand health trends and issues within their population. We were excited to roll up our sleeves and work closely with Dream’s People + Culture team to deliver on that wishlist. 

It all started with asking Dream employees what enhancements the company should make.  

Louise Sullivan, VP People + Culture at Dream, prides herself and her team on being a very high-touch-service department. So employees were asked to talk about what’s working and what isn’t, how well Dream lives their culture, what should be changed, what should stay the same, and what advice they have for management. One thing kept coming up: people wanted new and more flexible benefits options. This is in line with a recent study conducted by League and Harvard Business Review that revealed a majority of employees favour generous health and well-being benefits over salary increases. 

Dream’s outdated, although extensive, health and benefits infrastructure made it hard for employees to find, understand and use the benefits and programs they were entitled to. In Sullivan’s words, “Our benefits were stuck in the ’90s. We needed something digital and preventive—delivered by a partner who puts people first.” It was the beginning of a strong partnership as Dream and League shared a number of values and beliefs. Dan Ferens, Senior Manager, People + Culture at Dream, said they knew it was a good fit because “League was aligned to our vision.” 

The solution: meaningful plans, spending accounts, virtual care, enhanced optional coverages and mental well-being support. 

Dream’s collaboration with League led to a multi-pronged solution that benefited the organization and the employees alike. It included flexible plan options, health and lifestyle spending accounts, enhanced telemedicine services through Akira, and expanded mental well-being support through Inkblot, a virtual counselling service. The updated offerings would be implemented through League’s health operating system (OS), a digital platform that brings together all of Dream’s programs, benefits and insurance, giving employees a single access point to everything that’s available to them. Through the health OS, employees also have access to in-app live-chat health and navigation support with a team of nurses and access to self-serve resources they can use to proactively manage and improve their health. 

Ferens says the partnership with League has been an evolution of the steps the company has been taking to support their people. “We’re becoming more proactive rather than reactive,” he shares. “We’ve been on an evolution journey as a team, implementing an HRIS system (internally branded as mydream) last year to bring a new experience to our employees.” 

Part of that evolution includes setting up additional services to make sure a support system is in place for mental health and well-being. Sullivan feels that people are more open and honest about mental health and they’re getting better at talking about it because the trust is there. The workforce is young, with an average age of early-30s, so it made sense to implement virtual services. “Now, more than ever, people are learning to use remote tools and resources. We still had a solid above-average plan for mental health resources, but having additional resources through EAP and Inkblot will be really helpful and meaningful to our employees,” Sullivan notes.

But it’s a balance of hands-off and high-touch. 

When employees had questions about their benefits or coverage, they would reach out directly to the People + Culture team. As a very high-touch service group, the team is reluctant to give that up as a way of providing support. With League’s concierge services for health and benefits, employees can easily find answers and guidance to any of their questions right in-app, but Sullivan believes there should be a balance. They may answer the question then recommend using the concierge services next time. “So it’s not a black and white—it’s a grey. I’m feeling really good about it. We’re in the people business. We have jobs because we have employees. So we need to be there for our employees when they reach out. I still believe that. League won’t take that away from us, they’ll just add a point that helps our employees continue to feel supported.” Ferens agrees, saying it was a balance with League—having the same offerings but adding incentives and programs. It was an easy alignment for the People + Culture team.

A predictive and preventive solution for COVID-19 and beyond.

Dream was interested in a data analytics tool that would provide real-time insights into their aggregate population health and well-being. This data would help Dream better understand the unique needs of their people and how to best support them. In the past, their data points were retroactive—a quarter, or a year behind because they were analyzing claims long after the fact. The data pointed to drugs being used (for conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure) and it got Sullivan thinking. “If we could get resources to those employees before they ended up on those drugs—doesn’t that make sense?” With millions of non-identifying data points generated through ongoing employee engagement with the League app, Dream can instantly get anonymized aggregate data showing key priorities and risk areas. Then, a discussion can be opened. She says, “We’re getting data points that are real, meaningful and just in time. And we’re seeing what the trends are ahead of time so we know what’s working and what’s not.”

Data analysis is crucial to help Dream manage business continuity and back-to-work policies during the COVID-19 crisis. Up-to-the minute self-assessment data helps the organization capture trends and identify who’s at risk, who’s ready to return, and who may need extra support. Dream just implemented the first pulse survey with AI and data as a touchpoint for their employees and it has provided an extra point of contact with those individuals who may be struggling a bit more. Says Sullivan, “The tools are there. And if you’re not using them, you’re leaving things on the table that other companies are using—good future-building tools.” 

A solution for KPI success—in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Dream set some key performance indicators for their implementation journey with League, covering enrollment and utilization of the platform. Right out of the gate, they surpassed the first one, hitting 98% enrollment. In Sullivan’s words, “It was phenomenal considering we were wondering if it was the right time to proceed with implementation. The answer is well, what other time would be appropriate? Why not during a pandemic!” League was right by Dream’s side to help make things go smoothly, hosting webinars that were exceptionally attended—one with 200+ attendees for a deep dive into League. 

“Happy employees are healthy employees, and healthy employees are happy employees. If we look after each other, we see it in the commitment and the engagement in the long term.”

Louise Sullivan VP People + Culture, Dream Unlimited

The team is gearing up to see utilization rates for 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. When asked how the team sees it playing out longer term, Sullivan says, “No one has a crystal ball, but benefits are going the way of prevention. If we can get in front of people before they have a diagnosis and help them with whatever they’re dealing with physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, we’re going to increase employee engagement. We’re going to have healthier, happier employees in the workplace, which leads to better profitability at the end of the day. Happy employees are healthy employees, and healthy employees are happy employees. If we look after each other, we see it in the commitment and the engagement in the long term.” 

At League, we like to end our interviews with a lighthearted question that helps us get to know our HR leaders a bit better. So we asked Sullivan how she likes to unwind and destress, especially during COVID-19. She tells us about the importance of connecting with friends and family—whether it’s to laugh, to know it’s okay not to be okay, to relax those expectations on yourself about being the perfect parent, teacher, employee or “all things to all people.” For Sullivan, reaching out and connecting with others, especially now, really reaffirms that we’re all in this together. 

Dream is committed to building better communities—starting with their own. By implementing a digital-first experience with personalized offerings to support the health and well-being of their people, they’re arming their employees with the tools, resources and support they need to succeed. At League, we know their future is bright. And we can’t wait to see what it holds.

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