Only 40% of UK workers appreciate the benefits they receive from their employer, new research has revealed.
Despite just two fifths of the employees saying their benefits meet their needs, almost two thirds (61%) of employers believe employees are happy with their benefits package, according to Willis Towers Watson’s Benefit Preferences report, part of its Global Benefits Attitudes Study.
As well as highlighting a disconnect between employee and employer attitudes to benefits, the study also found a clear correlation between benefit choice and appreciation.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of employees able to tailor their provision via flexible benefit schemes said their package met their needs, compared with just 23% among those offered no benefits choice.
“These findings reinforce the importance of employers actively engaging with their staff to identify the benefits they most value, aligned to their workforce demographics,” said Mark Ramsook, Director of Sales and Marketing at Willis Towers Watson Health and Benefits.
“This vital intelligence should be married with wider corporate values and business objectives when benefits strategies are reviewed.
“Furthermore, employers should ensure their benefits programmes are being effectively communicated and leveraged to maximise engagement and address associated employee requirements. This is particularly important for traditional core benefits, such as pensions and health insurance, which continue to be valued highly, according to the study, and which will invariably attract the highest levels of spend.”
Given the choice, overall two-thirds (66%) of employees said they would sacrifice salary for more generous pension benefits, while health insurance saw a marked rise in popularity, with 39% calling for improved provision in lieu of salary – a 16 percentage point increase from 2015.
The research also showed that different employee populations want different things from their benefits. For example, baby boomers are more likely to cite retirement planning as their preferred benefit than millennials, while younger workers are more likely to choose annual unpaid leave than their older counterparts.
“Providing flexibility in benefits not only creates better appreciation from employees overall but also helps companies to engage all segments of the workforce, avoiding situations where certain employee groups do not feel their benefits are relevant or engaging,” added Ramsook.
“Employers looking to introduce flexibility around benefits choice should investigate the considerable advancements that have been made in supporting technology platforms, off-the-shelf solutions and digital communications.
“These can hold the key to the successful introduction of flex schemes, ensuring they streamline the benefits process, enabling it to be cost-effectively managed and administered.
“Employers, however, should give careful consideration to the balance of benefits they offer, how they will support and enhance the lives of employees and how flex schemes are structured to ensure they supports companies’ overall benefits strategies.”