56% of staff rely on workplace benefits to buy essential items

workplace benefitsMore than half (56%) of employees rely on workplace benefits to purchase essential items, a 31% increase from the previous year, according to research by Blackhawk Network (BHN) Extras.

The employee benefits provider. which surveyed 500 HR decision makers in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and 2,000 employees employed by SMEs across a range of sectors, also found that 76% of employees were apprehensive about their finances in the coming year, with 80% of millennials worried about this. One-quarter (25%) said they spread payments to cover childcare essentials, with 15% stating they would put additional disposable income towards these necessities if they had it.

Almost half (45%) of employers said they fear losing talent to competitors, yet only 33% have actively taken steps to prevent this. Two-fifths (40%) believe that providing additional financial support could stop employees leaving their organisations, while 57% of employees have sought financial coaching or education in the past six months outside of their benefits package.

One-fifth (19%) of employees crave more comprehensive financial guidance from their employer, yet only 16% of employers offer financial coaching or education. Gen Z and Millennial employees are more frustrated with current offerings, as cited by 74% and 69% respectively, compared to 39% of Baby Boomers and 55% of Gen X at 55%.

Chris Ronald, vice president of incentives, rewards and benefits at BHN, said: “We see a laser focus on work-life balance, which is important, but it seems employers are missing the bigger picture. Paying a fair salary is not enough. Employees are stressed about affording basic necessities and offering alternative options for financial support could be a game-changer.

“Younger generations are frustrated with current benefit packages. By offering targeted financial wellness programmes like discounts on groceries, household furnishings and technology, or even financial coaching, resources demonstrably used by younger generations, employers can bridge this gap and secure a loyal, engaged workforce. Financial security is a powerful motivator, and employers which prioritise it will be well-positioned to attract and retain top talent.”