HR professionals do not believe benefits meet employees’ needs

Although 59% of HR professionals say their organisation’s benefits meet individuals’ needs, only 28% believe this to be true on an unconscious level, according to a neuroscience-approach survey by Aon.

Its 2023 HR future focus survey measured both conscious and non-conscious responses to ascertain what respondents truly think about their current and future people challenges using its neuroscientific listening tool Reflection. The difference between the scores revealed a cognitive dissonance gap between what people say and what they think.

The survey found that 53% of respondents gave a traditional answer in agreement that employees understand their total reward package, while the neuroscientific score suggested that only 25% agree with this.

The largest difference in responses was revealed when asked if employers do enough to support financial wellbeing: the traditional response was 59%, but the neuroscientific score was just 20%, representing a 39% cognitive dissonance.

The survey also found that there was a cognitive dissonance in whether an employee value proposition (EVP) will attract and retain talent.

When asked if EVPs help to attract talent, the traditional response was 60% compared to the neuroscientific response of 58%. This low cognitive dissonance between the answers suggests that respondents were authentic in answering this question.

However, the traditional response to whether EVPs help to retain critical talent was 58% and the neuroscientific response was 42%, suggesting that respondents did not agree on an unconscious level.

Nathalie Hyatt, strategy principal, Health Solutions UK at Aon, said: “Employers tend to use traditional surveys when carrying out employee listening exercises and employees themselves answer these types of surveys using their conscious mind, thinking about the question asked and often giving a considered response. But these responses may be influenced by a number of mindsets: from being strategic in their answers, secretive or even disinterested or disruptive.

“The difference, therefore, between conscious and non-conscious-level response is often substantial. ‘Cognitive dissonance’ is the discomfort and stress people feel when they struggle with two conflicting beliefs. The greater the difference between the beliefs, the higher the dissonance and the greater the stress on the individual who is concealing their gut feeling.

“For instance, when looking at results across the survey as a whole, neuroscientific responses differed by as much as 39% compared to the traditional survey. Using neuroscience technology to listen to employees is a key way for employers to have clarity and confidence to make more informed decisions and create meaningful action plans to deliver better employee experiences.”