Half believe benefits are not meeting the needs of multigenerational workforce

Sarah Robson

Half (50%) of employers do not think their benefits offering is meeting the needs of all generations within their workforce, with 89% believing that they will need to change their package to suit future generations entering the workforce, according to research by Aon.

The Benefits and trends survey 2019, which polled more than 200 employers, also found that 199 respondents believe that employees expect more flexible working, while 181 stated that staff want more agile and home working opportunities. In addition, 161 employers said that employees now expect better awareness and handling of mental health issues, and 133 cited a better approach to diversity and inclusion as an employee priority.

Almost two-fifths (38%) of international respondents have a single global benefits strategy or set of guiding principles; a further 13.5% manage their benefits using a single global benefits platform, compared to 60% that have no plans to use this type of tool. Almost eight in 10 (77%) benchmark their benefits with their peers.

Only 25% of respondents stated that they have a clear EVP; of these, 68% feel that their EVP is clearly communicated and explained to staff. Among those respondents with an EVP, the majority noted a positive impact on staff: 65% said it impacts employee engagement, 63% said it boosts retention and 70% said it improves recruitment. 

Of the 200 employer respondents, 187 cited employee engagement as an objective for their benefits strategy. Other key objectives include retention (167), recruitment (148), and cost management (141).

More than two-thirds (68%) provide additional money above statutory requirements for maternity leave, and 12% make return-to-work payments. Almost three-fifths (58%) have received shared parental leave requests; 38% match enhanced maternity pay for their shared parental leave policy, while 58% apply the statutory amount.

Among the employers surveyed, 113 offer workplace adjustments as part of their health and wellbeing programme. This compares to 118 that provide support with workstation set up, 88 that conduct stress and resilience training and 86 that provide access to health risk assessments.

However, 48% of respondents do not have a specific budget for their health and wellness programme, despite the fact that 56% agree and 20% strongly agree that the employer is responsible for influencing employee health and changing behaviours. Moving forwards, 170 respondents stated that they plan to focus on education and prevention for their health and wellbeing strategy.

More than half (53%) of respondents deemed it extremely important to increase employee understanding and engagement with benefits, health and financial wellbeing; 30% of employers noted that augmented and virtual reality technologies have a part to play in this.

Of those that offer financial education, 67 do so around their organisation’s pension scheme; 60, on the other hand, provide no financial education.

More than four in 10 (45%) employers operate an online benefits or flexible benefits portal, while a further 20% sated that they plan to introduce this within the next three years.

Sarah Robson (pictured), senior communication consultant at Aon, said: “[Organisations] say that understanding of and engagement with benefits is extremely or very important, yet the majority don’t put into practice communication techniques that could help programmes get better results through behavior change.

“It is encouraging that more respondents are willing to increase their communication spend to help awareness in order that employees learn how their individual benefits can be of so much value. Plus, we are starting to see more employers doing some exciting things, not least by using new technology and apps.”