More than a quarter plan to increase investment in health and wellbeing benefits

Charles Cotton

More than a quarter (29%) of employer respondents state that they are likely to increase investment in their health and wellbeing benefits in the next two years, for example around occupational sick pay, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and flu jabs, according to research by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) and LCP.

The Reward management report, which surveyed 568 HR professionals, also found that 43% are most likely to increase spend on professional development in the next two years, to support training, paid study leave and professional subscriptions.

On the other hand, 25% intend to increase investment around financial benefits; this includes spending on pension schemes, loans to help staff in financial hardship and free money and debt advice.

More than one in 10 (17%) respondents expect to invest in a formal work-life balance policy within the next two years; this could feature flexible working and shared parental leave arrangements.

Charles Cotton (pictured), senior reward and performance adviser at the CIPD, said: “Despite the recent economic and political uncertainty, employers are committed to investing in their employees and their future. It’s encouraging to see the benefits that have been earmarked for further spend in the near future relate to people development and wellbeing. Spending in these areas can help to improve employee, and ultimately corporate performance.

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents use employee benefits to attract, recruit and retain staff in order to support current business needs; however, 74% do not conduct reviews of their benefits spend. Furthermore, 21% believe that their benefits offering is not easily accessible, and 16% stated that they do not always communicate what benefits are available.

Cotton continued: “The people profession has an important role to play in analysing spend on benefits to see if the business, its people and other key stakeholders are getting maximum value from them. Analysis provides crucial evidence for making changes for the better if this is not the case.”

The majority (97%) of respondents plan to maintain or increase their spend on employee benefits over the next two years; within this group, 81% intend to spend the same amount on employee benefits in the upcoming two years, compared to 16% who plan to increase their investment.

The research also found that the top 10 most popular employee benefits currently offered to employees across all sectors are pensions schemes, paid bereavement leave, training and career development, childcare vouchers, occupational sick pay, EAPs, Christmas parties or lunches, free tea and coffee, 25 days or more of paid annual leave for full-time employees, and paid leave for jury service.

Dipa Mistry Kandola, head of flexible benefits services at LCP, said: “Our report reveals that more employers than expected don’t promote their benefits or make them easily accessible. Organisations could be wasting significant costs if their people don’t know about the range of benefits on offer or are put off utilising them if they’re not easily accessible.

“Organisations will only be able to get true engagement from their people if they offer tailored benefits facilitated through a comprehensive, multi-channel communication strategy that encourages feedback. The way benefits are communicated, delivered and measured is just as important as having the right benefits in place.”