Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the measurable impact that benefits have on employee engagement and productivity, new research suggests.
In the latest Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey from insurance, risk management and consulting services firm Gallagher, 45% of HR practitioners in the UK said they plan to change their current benefits offering amid a highly competitive labour market.
Among those planning changes, 72% are seeking to enhance benefits and 47% want to improve flexibility in benefits, to extend individual choice.
"While cost is always central to business performance, we are seeing a shift in the market as employers are having to compete for talent in a very diverse workforce," commented Leslie Lemenager, president of Gallagher's International Employee Benefits Consulting and Brokerage. "The fact that 47% of organisations are aiming to enhance flexibility in benefits provisions -- despite cost management being their biggest challenge -- points to a strong recognition that there is a need to go above and beyond to attract and retain talent."
The survey of over 170 UK-based employers found that only one in five currently allow employees to customise their individual benefits package, and customisation is available for only a few benefits, such as contribution levels to retirement savings plans.
It's also important to offer a wide range of benefits that appeal to a diverse workforce. The survey found this to be the second most commonly cited obstacle to sufficient benefits provision, with two-thirds (66%) of HR professionals identifying it as a major challenge.
A surprisingly high 52% of organisations do not allow employees to work from home, and other benefits that suit a diverse workforce are also uncommon: only 43% offer a condensed working week; just 24% offer agile working; and just one in seven (14%) offer term-time only working.
If organisations want to set themselves apart, flexible benefits and flexible work are "excellent places to begin", Gallagher concluded.
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