Why workplace benefits and savings are an essential workplace offering

Workplace benefits and savings are more vital than ever as the number of employers offering pay rises, in line or above inflation, is set to reduce. Financial Wellbeing Research 2023, from the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with WEALTH at work[1], reveals that only 19% of employers plan to increase pay in line with, or above inflation in the next two years, which compares with 42% of employers that did so in the last two years.

This comes as research from WEALTH at work[2] has revealed that many full-time workers admit that money worries are impacting their work, with 23% struggling to concentrate and 15% saying their productivity has decreased. 16% have also incurred debts for the first time in their professional lives this year (excluding mortgage debt).

This is possibly why the proportion of employers offering access to wage advance schemes has seen significant growth, with 37% of employers now offering such schemes, up from 23% in 2022[1].

However, whilst employers are less likely to offer above inflation pay rises, they may instead, be looking towards their financial wellbeing benefits to play a greater role in supporting employees through cost-of-living challenges, with 50% of employers set to increase financial wellbeing spend.

In particular, the research found that support in the workplace is growing for saving products which can help build financial resilience. Employers offer or plan to offer in the next two years, pay as you earn saving schemes such as help-to-save and opt-in payroll savings (34%), employee share plans (42%), tax free saving wrappers including ISAs (45%), and long-term incentive plans (54%).

Additionally, schemes to help employees reduce costs that are set to remain in place include salary sacrifice plans (94%), and product discounts and/or voluntary benefits (92%).

Alongside this, the number of employers offering independent financial education, guidance, and advice is set to almost double. Employers offer or plan to offer in the next two years, financial education from an independent provider (62%), financial guidance (67%), and advice on general finances (56%), or advice specific to retirement (60%). In fact, financial coaching is also set for significant growth – 12% of employers currently offer it but 41% plan to within the next couple of years – a 241% increase.

Jonathan Watts-Lay, Director, WEALTH at work explains; “With many households likely to feel the effects of stretched budgets well into the year ahead, supporting employees to manage their money and make it go further has never been more important.”

He explains; “For many companies, inflation busting pay rises will be a challenge. However, there are more ways employers can help, which is why workplace benefits and savings have become an essential workplace offering.”

Watts-Lay adds; “It’s encouraging to see that a number of employers are increasing employee access to a range of financial wellbeing products and services, with many more planning to do so.

However, it’s worrying that wage advance schemes are increasing in popularity as they are not a long-term solution to financial problems, and employers must ensure that they are offered alongside financial education and guidance.”

He comments; “But of course, the potential benefits of any workplace financial support are determined by the extent to which employees are aware of the products and services on offer to them, and how to access them and optimise their use. Also, in the current environment, it has become difficult for a lot of people to save as much as they would like, which can have a serious impact on financial resilience.

This is why it’s so important to underpin any financial wellbeing initiative with financial education and guidance, as this can not only help employees understand the financial benefits on offer, but also how they can better manage their finances and save for the future.”

To help employees build financial resilience, WEALTH at work has recently launched a Corporate ISA which is specifically designed for the workplace. It enables employees to save in a convenient, flexible and tax-efficient way from payroll as well as making ad hoc payments.

For more information, please see www.wealthatwork.co.uk/corporate/corporate-isa/

[1] The REBA Employee Financial Wellbeing Survey 2023 was carried out online between March and May 2023 and was launched on 26 September 2023. Responses were received from 195 wellbeing, HR and employee benefits specialists working at organisations representing over 1.5 million employees and is available here https://www.wealthatwork.co.uk/corporate/financial-wellbeing-research-2023-creating-a-structured-approach-to-financial-benefits-report/?utm_source=e-shot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=REBA_report&utm_id=Waw
[2] The research for WEALTH at work was carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout 25.08.23 – 30.08.23 amongst a panel resulting in 1,019 full-time workers responding. Click here to see the full results: https://www.wealthatwork.co.uk/corporate/2023/10/09/the-cost-of-money-worries-survey-results/