More than two-fifths (44%) of employers do not believe that their benefits packages meet the needs of all generations present within the workforce, according to research by Aon.
The UK Benefits and trends survey 2020, which canvassed 200 participants across a range of sectors, found that 38% thought they met the needs of the various generations within their workforce. Additionally, the vast majority (81%) stated that they would need to change their benefits offering to meet the needs of future generations entering the workforce.
The most popular benefit in terms of employee expectation was flexible working hours (97%), followed by agile or home working (94%) and better awareness and handling of mental health issues (88%). More than half (54%) of employers stated that they had recently implemented an agile-working policy.
Life assurance (87%) and employee assistance programmes (EAPs) (88%) were the most common benefits offered to all employees on an employer-funded basis, while cash plans (14%), critical illness (13%) and dental insurance (13%) were among the least common employer-funded benefits.
A fifth (41%) of employers do not have a specific budget for their health and wellness programme, and do not intend to implement one within the next 12 to 18 months.
Despite more than half (54%) of employers understanding the extreme importance of increasing employee understanding of and engagement with benefits, the majority (63%) spend between £0 and £5,000 annually to tackle this cause; 57% do not have an engagement strategy in place.
Three-fourths of employers plan to work towards creating an employee value proposition (EVP) (76%), noting that these have a positive impact on recruitment (78%), engagement (77%) and retention (76%).
Jeff Fox, principal at Aon, said: “The concept of an EVP is becoming the new normal, and many more employers are developing clear branding and messaging around the whole ‘employee experience’. Employee benefits are just a part of that overall experience, so developing a joined-up approach with values, culture, policies and benefits is vital in creating a successful EVP.
“This is of critical importance, as we witness employees’ expectations of the workplace changing rapidly, with employers responding accordingly to recruit and retain the best talent. People are becoming more aware and selective about the type of organisation they want to work for, especially in a near full-employment economy.
“Within a few generations, the workplace has moved from a ‘job for life’ to ‘fulfil my needs and make my life easier’ which impacts employer actions, not least helping employees to feel present, focused and productive. The benefits package, wider EVP and supporting communications ultimately need to be focused on that objective.”
Mark Witte, principal at Aon, added: “There are many health, social, and economic factors impacting employers’ decisions to strategically support staff wellbeing.
“By some margin, employers’ strategies are principally focusing on mental health, which is most likely testament to the surge of interest in the issue as well as an increased understanding of the impact on business performance. However, the low number of employers with defined strategies for other health conditions seems at odds given their prevalence and impact.
“If we acknowledge the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on private medical insurance spend or working days lost, or the considerable impact that cancer and heart-related conditions can have both financially and emotionally for a firm, then a business case can surely be built to put in place strong strategies which focus on education, prevention and behavioural change. It is incredibly encouraging that employers are focusing on emotional and financial wellbeing, but it’s inarguable that they focus on what their specific company data is telling them.
“Data sets reflecting the full end to-end health and wellbeing cycle, from prevention and education through to long-term support, will allow for further segmentation to help refine [an organisation’s] benefits and engagement strategy”.