Mercer research: Employers offer staff choice of benefits

Almost half of UK employers now give employees some form of choice in the benefits they receive, and a quarter of the remainder are also considering doing so, according to research by Mercer.

The global survey, of more than 1,700 organisations, showed that the trend to offer benefit choice was notably higher in the UK than in many other countries in Europe and other parts of the world.

Of the number of UK employers offering benefit choice, 28% now provide some flexibility, while 14% offer a considerable amount of flexibility. Additionally, 71% of all employers either have definite plans or are looking into the possibility of providing more choice in future.

The most important reason for providing choice, cited by 86% of UK companies, was to “remain competitive in the marketplace”, while the second most popular reason, at 71%, was to “increase employees’ understanding and appreciation of the value of their benefits”.

Jeffrey Fox, a consultant in Mercer’s UK health and benefits business, said: “Clearly, there is a growing trend towards tailoring employee benefits to individual needs, rather than offering a standard package for all. This recognises the fact that employees value their benefits more when adapted to their personal circumstances and, in the case of full flex programmes, when they also understand the costs involved.

“In the current economic climate, many companies have had to hold back on salary and bonus increases, so are focusing on changes to their benefit programmes to motivate employees. Offering greater choice is one area that is currently popular,” he added.

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