Pensions salary sacrifice tops list of valued benefits for UK staff

Over half (56%) of UK employees would sacrifice pay for a higher pension contribution by their employer, according to Aon Hewitt.

Its European Employee Benefits Benchmark, which surveyed more than 7,500 employees in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, focuses on topics such as retirement, employee benefits and other pension-related issues.

Other popular benefits in the UK are greater financial protection in the event of illness/injury (37%) and the ability to take three to six months unpaid or partially-paid leave (37%).

Britons were also particularly keen on having the opportunity to undertake an education course of their choice (31% compared to 23% across Europe), while having the option to purchase additional holiday (21%) was also popular.

On top of these benefits, UK employees were also interested in childcare, alternative healthcare treatments, a company mobile phone, and a home cleaning and ironing service.

John Puddephatt, principal at Aon Hewitt, said: “Supporting those in retirement is a significant headache for the UK government at a time when public spending is being slashed.

“At the same time, the country’s businesses are acutely aware of the importance of balancing the cost of company pension schemes with the ability to continue to attract the best talent.

“The increase of the state retirement age in the UK to 66 for both men and women by 2020, and the financial crisis impacting many pension funds, has focused people’s minds on their own long-term financial security. It is an absolute turnaround that people are prepared to sacrifice their hard-earned money today for a more financially secure future tomorrow.

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“The war for talent may not yet be in full swing again, but employers need to start re-stocking their benefits armoury in preparation. Employees clearly value non-financial benefits, and implementing a flexible benefits strategy could not only help a firm’s staff attraction and retention programme but can be extremely cost effective too.”

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