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Survey Report

Rising benefit costs and meeting multi-generational needs are top challenges for Australian employers

Health and Benefits|Future of Work

January 9, 2020

Faced with rising costs and continuing struggles to engage employees with their benefits, Australian employers are working towards transforming their overall corporate benefit strategy to better meet employee needs.

The 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey found employers are looking to broaden their benefit strategies, encompassing employee wellbeing and enhancing work policies to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce.  Essentially, Australian employers are placing higher priorities on employee choices. 

The survey found the primary benefit strategy challenges employers expect to face over the next three years are rising benefit costs and the differing wants and needs of a multi-generational workforce. A significant focus for Australian employers is lack of data to measure benefit plan outcomes or changes in member behaviour, and the fragmentation of vendors/providers and lack of integrated tools. Another key metric is a significant number of employers are looking to share benefit costs with employees.

Australian employers have begun the journey to redefine and modernise their benefits, understanding that this strategy can be instrumental in shaping the type of organisation they are, and the way their employees – as well as their peers – perceive them.

The trend to wellbeing has broadened; employers are embracing concepts such as inclusion and diversity, corporate social responsibility and flexible work policies. Given the broadening, employers increasingly need to ask themselves if their benefits strategy is truly delivering results. Are they getting full value from their benefits package? Are they effectively communicating the value to their employees? And, ultimately, does the strategy equip the organisation to meet the needs of a multi-generational workforce?

So, what can employers do to ensure their benefits strategy is fit-for-purpose? With a dramatic increase in the number of people aged over 60 years old remaining in employment, the Australian workforce today comprises up to five generations, each with differing requirements and expectations. This calls for a flexible approach to benefit strategies that reflects the needs of all employees, maximises inclusivity and engagement, while ensuring the employee population feels valued. 

While controlling costs remains their top challenge, employers are increasingly focused on a broader benefit strategy that goes beyond their core health and retirement offerings. In addition to the traditional emphasis on plan design and cost management, companies are now looking for ways to better connect with employees to meet the benefit needs of a diverse workforce and get the most value for their benefit spend.

Australian insights from Willis Towers Watson’s 2019/2020 Benefit Trends survey
Top priorities by Australian employers for benefits portfolio Percentage of participants
Incorporate wellbeing into overall benefit strategy 84%
Enhance work policies 77%
Incorporate inclusion & diversity into benefits program design 65%
Align benefit provisions with market norms and employee wants and needs 60%

Managing Director, Health and Benefits, Australasia

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