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2019/2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey Findings

Health and Benefits|Inclusion and Diversity|Retirement|Talent|Total Rewards|Wellbeing
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February 26, 2020

In a more uncertain world, the security provided by benefits plans, particularly core benefits, is even more valued than in the past.

In the decade since the global financial crisis, we have seen prolonged periods of weak economic growth, with relatively limited pay increases for most workers. In many countries, this has been accompanied by a combination of low interest rates, steep rises in housing prices and mounting student debts, that are particularly affecting younger workers.

Given this economic backdrop, many households are facing financial pressure. Over a third of employees globally report they are living paycheck to paycheck, using most or all of their monthly income for expenses with nothing left for savings. Such financial insecurity typically has a significant negative impact on other aspects of a person’s life: Around three in 10 employees globally report they have money troubles that are negatively impacting their life (Figure 2).

This figure shows 36% of employees globally live paycheck to paycheck and 31% have financial problems that are negatively impacting their life.
Figure 2. Financial fragility

While short-term financial concerns are at the fore of many people’s consciousness, long-term financial concerns also linger.

Many governments are reducing the generosity of social security program benefits, and on the employer side, DC retirement plans have replaced DB programs as the main form of provision. Against this background, we observe widespread employee concerns around the ability to finance retirement, coupled with a recognition that they need to save more (Figure 3).

Figure 3 shows widespread employee concerns around the ability to finance retirement, coupled with a recognition that they need to save more (68& saving less than they should for retirement and 59% say my generation is likely to be much more off in retirement than my parent’s generation.
Figure 3. Retirement readiness

Hence, among many employees there is a feeling that they aren’t getting ahead financially in the short-term and are also falling behind on their retirement saving. At the same time, employers are becoming more aware of how health and financial issues are interconnected and can impact worker productivity. Workers with financial and health issues have increased absences and instances of presenteeism (i.e., reporting for work but not fully functioning); lower job engagement; and higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression (Figure 4).

This figure shows that workers with financial and health issues have increased absences and instances of presenteeism (i.e., reporting for work but not fully functioning); lower job engagement; and higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Figure 4. The links between financial wellbeing, health and stress

While employers are recognizing these links between financial wellbeing and health more and more, they are uncertain about the solution.

What do employees want or need? Is this simply a matter of more pay, if that is even possible?

For many employees, the answer is “no”. When given the option, nearly half of workers globally would prefer more pay or bonus but nearly two-fifths would prefer more generous benefits, and around one-fifth would prefer more paid time off per year (Figure 5).

Figure 5 shows that when given the option, nearly half of workers globally would prefer more pay or bonus but nearly two-fifths would prefer more generous benefits, and around one-fifth would prefer more paid time off per year.
Figure 5. Most important priority

This is also reflected in a steep increase in the desire for more generous retirement and health care benefits over time in the U.K. and the U.S. (Figure 6). This desire for security is common across all generations.

Despite the perception that benefits are on the decline or that employees do not appreciate them, employees are even more focused on their company benefits. In a more uncertain world, the security provided by benefits plans, particularly core benefits, is even more valued than in the past.

This figure reflects a steep increase in the desire for more generous retirement and health care benefits over time in the U.K. and the U.S among all generations.
Figure 6. The rising desire for security
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