Employee benefits ‘fail to meet workers’ priorities’

Discrepancy between employers’ offerings and what employees want

There is a high level of discrepancy between the benefits employers offer to their staff and those employees value most, according to the first Working Lives report from Aviva.

The report on private sector employer and employee engagement with workplace savings and benefits shows that the most common benefit offered by firms is an annual bonus at 35% of companies.

Meanwhile, 33% offer a pension scheme, 24% offer life insurance or a death in service benefit, 23% offer health insurance and 22% non-financial benefits.

While 36% of employees value an annual bonus, only 16% value a pension scheme, 14% value life insurance, 15% value health insurance and 14% non-financial benefits.

Employees’ priorities also vary significantly according to age, with 21% of 35 to 44 year olds valuing a pension scheme as a workplace benefit, compared to just 7% of 22 to 24 year olds. The report said this age group is more likely to be focused on lifestyle benefits such as gym membership and a subsidised canteen, with 21% of 22 to 24 year olds valuing such perks compared to 13% of 35 to 44 year olds.

The report said that while there is a discrepancy between what an employee is offered and what they value, employers do appear to be embracing a broader range of benefit options.

The survey also shows that 78% of companies offer their employees some benefits beyond their basic salary, while 39% are looking for ways to motivate staff without ‘unduly increasing remuneration’.

In addition, the report examines how prepared employers are for the government’s automatic pension enrolment initiative due to come into force later this year.

It shows that 70% of firms are aware of the new legislation and 43% have actively started planning for its introduction.

But the report said: “However, when employers’ understanding and intended actions are more closely examined, the picture is less clear and perhaps suggests that many have not thought through the long-term requirements beyond their initial staging dates.”

While 23% of companies said they feel fully prepared and understand what measures they will put in place, 11% of those who have heard of the legislation have no plans at all, and 27% say that they have not started discussing the legislative implications for their business.

Furthermore, although the majority of employers are aware of the legislation, 68% of private sector employees have little or no knowledge of the subject.

The report said: “This illustrates a critical challenge that will need to be overcome if automatic enrolment is to gain traction in the workplace. Even those employees who said they had some knowledge on the subject, when questioned further actually had little depth of understanding as to what it might mean for them personally.”

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