85% offer a flexible benefits platform to increase employee engagement

More than three quarters (85%) of employer respondents offer an online flexible benefits platform to increase employee engagement, according to research by Aon Employee Benefits.

Its Benefits and trends survey 2016, which surveyed 200 HR, compensation and benefits, reward, finance and pensions professionals, also found that 38% of respondents have an online flexible benefits platform.

The research also found:

  • 30% of respondents have no plans to introduce an online flexible benefits platform.
  • 76% of respondents offer online flexible benefits to create employee choice, and 67% offer flexible benefits to aid staff retention.
  • 44% of respondents view price as the most important factor in benefits procurement.
  • 58% of respondents do not have a specific budget for health and wellness.
  • 54% of respondents offer telephone medical services as part of a health and wellbeing programme, 39% offer physical activity challenges, and 35% provide stress reduction activities.
  • 57% of respondents use absence data to drive their health and wellbeing strategy, and 45% use data from employee engagement surveys.
  • 67% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the employer is responsible for influencing health and changing behaviour.
  • 30% of respondents have no benefits communication strategy and no plans to implement one, and 36% of respondents would be willing to spend money to improve their benefit communications.

Jeff Fox, principle at Aon Employee Benefits, said: “The staple objectives for implementing flexible benefits are employee engagement, choice and retention. As it remains the best tool to offer choice to employees, we believe flex has a bright future.

“However, it is surprising that governance was one of the lowest-rated objectives, with just 11% judging it important. Our view is that this needs to change as a lack of governance makes it very difficult to know whether the scheme is fit for purpose or if objectives are met. It is also very difficult to prove return on investment. Indeed, a third of respondents weren’t sure how or if they were measuring the success of their schemes.

“The benefit landscape is, as ever, experiencing a number of headwinds. Although this survey suggests benefit professionals are struggling to work with some of the uncertainties, now is the time to form a business relevant benefit strategy. Benefits expenditure must be justified in more comprehensive ways, beyond the ‘easy’ financial return which the comfort blanket of salary sacrifice has provided. While employers continue to enjoy the savings, it is not clear how long they will be able to do so.”