One of the (many) things I love about my job is the variety of opinions that I canvass when speaking with existing and potential new employers. It is clear from conversations that I have with employers from different industries, locations, and who have varying employee demographics that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to employee benefits. Whilst some employers fully embrace not only a full range of benefits and the promotion of them, but other employers also simply see employee benefits as a box ticking and hygiene exercise.
A conversation that is now taking place more often than not is around, ‘What are our competitors doing/offering and how do we compare?’. To my mind this conversation clearly means that employers are looking to ensure that they are competitive from a remuneration package point of view which in turn helps to sell themselves as an employer of choice. Benchmarking is a great exercise to undertake but unless an employer is willing to take steps to create a budget for any potential changes to an employee benefits offering, is the exercise worthwhile?
Without a doubt, yes! The result from any exercise will either demonstrate what an employer has in place already is competitive or that it is not competitive. If it is competitive then this should be something that an employer shouts from the rooftops. Alternatively, if not, at the very least the employer has the information with which to decide on how they bridge any weaknesses.
Regardless of the outcome of any benchmarking exercise, the promotion of benefits and the implementation or review of any employee benefits strategy including health and wellbeing strategies should also be considered. There is absolutely no point investing vast sums of money into insurance related or technology-based solutions unless employees engage with them, embrace them, and value them.
Latest research from Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends 2021 survey, in which there were over 300 participants, show that:
- 77% of the surveyed companies benchmark their benefits
- Enhancing communications with employees is a high priority for 86% of employers
- The top 3 priorities by importance to employers are:
- Employee Engagement
- Cost Management
- Employee Retention
- The majority of employers mainly use email to communicate their benefit and wellbeing support
- 44% of employer have a formal health and wellbeing policy with 33% intending to have one within 18 months
- 50% of employers offer financial education as part of their health and wellbeing programme
- 35% of employers use face to face briefings to communicate flexibility around the retirement options linked to Pensions but only 13% offer employer paid financial advice
- A big majority say their healthcare spend will be focussed on education and prevention
- 48% of the respondents do not feel they are doing enough to support financial wellbeing and pension communications and are planning to do more
This data is then backed up by the Group Risk Development (GRiD) research that was undertaken by Opinium whereby more than 500 HR Decision makers were surveyed. Highlights form this survey are:
- 69% of respondents think that the Covid 19 pandemic will mean a change in the way that employers support the health and wellbeing of staff
- 68% of respondents provide financial support in the event of long-term absence (6 months or more) due to ill health, disability, or injury
- 89% of respondents believe that supporting the health and wellbeing of staff has a significant positive impact for their business
- 41% of respondents do not measure appreciation of employee benefits
- 31% of respondents do not measure the impact of sickness absence
Clearly the theme from both sets of research is similar in that it appears that the communication of benefits and employees being aware of what is being provided to them, together with the general health and wellbeing of a workforce are the key factors being considered by employers.
It is very encouraging and refreshing to see that employers are taking these positive steps with the outcome surely being a win-win for both employers and employees alike. However, its vitally important that an employer engages with specialists to help them identify and deliver the health and wellbeing requirements of their specific business and its workforce, and the first step should be to engage with an award winning, client focussed employee benefit consultancy like Wingate Benefit Solutions.