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Only two-fifths of UK employees are happy with their workplace benefits


April 17, 2018

Despite just two fifths of employees saying their benefits meet their needs, almost two thirds (61%) of employers believe employees are happy with their benefits package.

LONDON, 17 April 2018 – 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.”


About the 2017 -18 Global Benefits Attitude Survey

The Global Benefits survey is a global study that explores individuals’ attitudes to their health and retirement benefits. The survey took place between July and August 2017 and was completed by 2,824 employees at medium and large private sector companies in the UK.

About Willis Towers Watson Health & Benefits

Willis Towers Watson’s Health & Benefits team helps clients to cut the cost of employee illness, minimise levels of sickness absence and retain good staff. It offers employee benefits packages, healthcare insurances, employee assistance and stress management programmes, health screening and absence management initiatives.
The company also helps employers reduce the frequency and cost of claims made on healthcare or income protection policies through its specialist nurse-led claims management team. By giving employees expert support during an absence, the company is consistently successful in returning staff to work quicker.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has more than 40,000 employees in more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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