The State of Workplace Employee Benefits

Posted on  Aug 10, 22 by Dee Coakley
The state of workplace employee benefits today

The best employers know that focusing on salary alone will only get you so far. You need to provide salary and support to engender loyalty amongst your people. 

This is why employee benefits matter. They provide the support that impacts all aspects of people’s lives – our health, our happiness, our family, and even our future. 

From an employer's perspective, they are one of the most important factors in determining the success of your recruitment and retention efforts. And our new research suggests that now might be a good time to refresh your benefits package, especially from a global employee benefits perspective.

Employee benefits research highlights

Our study shows that nine out of ten candidates will strongly consider your benefits before deciding whether to take a job with you. It also reveals that more than two-thirds of employees have moved jobs to secure a better benefits package or would do so in the future. 

That’s a pretty big number, and while 62% of employers believe they already offer attractive benefits, unfortunately, this view is not echoed by the wider workforce. We found that more than eight out of ten (84%) of employees are unhappy with their current package, a worrying statistic given that there are record numbers of job vacancies to tempt them elsewhere. 

Our research shows that people don’t want benefits to be mandated from on high. They want the flexibility to pick and choose the options that are most relevant to their lives.

It hasn’t always been easy for employers to keep up with employees’ benefits needs – particularly when they’re employing people from radically different backgrounds or across multiple countries. 

On the plus side, however, change is now easier than ever, with tech-enabled tools and advice available to deliver a competitive, flexible benefits package wherever you operate. So let’s take a closer look at what employees are asking for and consider how you can better meet their ever-changing needs.

Employee benefits on offer

The top five benefits currently being offered to employees

  1. Pension (59%)
  2. Mental health support (41%)
  3. Flexible working (41%)
  4. Education/training (40%)
  5. Additional annual leave (35%)

It’s no surprise to see pensions topping the list of the most popular benefits on offer. Pensions have long been the most sought-after benefit by employees with an eye on the future, and over the past decade, governments such as the UK one have made a concerted effort to get as many workers as possible into private pension schemes.

Our study shows that 9 out of 10 candidates will strongly consider your benefits before deciding whether to take a job with you.

But what’s notable about this list is how the pandemic has influenced employee preferences. In the aftermath of the pandemic, flexible working is commonplace across organisations. Many employers have used their benefits package to step up support for remote working by adding extra mental health provisions, home office equipment, or even money for co-working spaces. 

Mental health support, which has been rising up the corporate agenda as the impact of work on mental health issues caused by work has become increasingly clear, ranks particularly high on our list. With the pandemic having a negative effect on most people’s mental health, it’s clear that employees genuinely value any efforts made by employers to proactively support workforce wellbeing.

Simply put, the research suggests you're missing a trick if you don’t offer benefits such as mental health support or flexible working. 

What benefits employees actually want

The top five benefits employees wish they were offered

  1. Four-day work week (52%)
  2. Bonuses (41%)
  3. Additional annual leave (33%)
  4. Flexible working (25%)
  5. Healthcare (25%)

Employee wishlists should generally be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, who wouldn’t want more holiday, a shorter working week, or greater incentives for performing well at work? 

The challenge for employers, however, is that employees no longer see these benefits as nice-to-haves or perks. Flexible working is becoming a prerequisite for millions of desk-based workers. Extra holiday days, unlimited paid leave and paid ‘workcations’ are all increasingly common. Even a four-day work week, until recently seen as fanciful, is now being rapidly adopted across various industries. In such a competitive market, can you really afford to fall behind on benefits that are increasingly being viewed as standard, or non-negotiable?

It’s time for everyone to get smarter about benefits – what you offer, how you deliver it, and how you manage it. Flexible, self-managed benefit packages are the future of benefits provision, and it’s worth making the switch sooner rather than later.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that employee preferences will continue to evolve as more households are affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Given the rate at which prices are rising, benefits that help ease the burden on households could also rank high on the wishlist over the next few months. 

Quick employee benefits wins you can offer today

Reorganising your workforce around a shorter working week or creating a new bonus/incentive scheme might not be affordable for you right now. And it’s certainly not something that can be done overnight. 

Luckily, plenty of other benefits are much easier to roll out, without costing too much or adding to your admin. Here are some quick wins that are sure to go down well with your team:

  • Travel and transport: Despite the growth of remote working, benefits such as travelcards, taxi services, or cycle-to-work schemes –are still sought after by one in five employees (19%)
  • Mental health support: 18% of people want their employers to offer access to support such as counselling services, psychotherapy or mindfulness apps
  • Health & wellbeing: One in six employees (17%) are looking to their employers to support their well-being – from gym membership to vitamin subscriptions and meal boxes
  • Training & learning: All good employees want to learn and develop in their roles, and 15% want training & learning opportunities to be formally included in their benefits
  • Entertainment: Don’t underestimate the value of subsidising entertainment services like Netflix and Disney+ that allow employees to relax after a hard day’s work. 13% of people would benefit from adding entertainment-related benefits to the mix
Eight out of ten (84%) of employees are unhappy with their current benefits package, a worrying statistic given that there are record numbers of job vacancies to tempt them elsewhere.

Of course, you don’t need to give all of these benefits to everyone. That would make things pretty expensive, and it isn’t really necessary. Different employees value different things. It’s all about their life circumstances and individual preferences. For example, health & wellbeing benefits appeal more to fully office-based workers than hybrid workers. 18-24-year-olds are more likely to be interested in entertainment benefits than older age groups. 

The trick is to make all of the benefits options available and allow people to pick the ones that make most sense for them.

A more flexible yet harmonised approach to employee benefits

To extend the range of benefits options you provide, you’re better off moving over to a solution that allows the use of a self-managed flexible benefits allowance such as the Boundless Borderless Benefits platform. Don’t worry – it’s not complicated. In fact, it’s a much easier way to administer benefits, one that also lets people tailor their benefits packages to suit their specific needs. Your employees log into the platform, select the benefits they want from a list of pre-vetted suppliers, and can change or modify their package whenever they like. All you need to do is agree on each person’s benefits allowance. The added value of choosing the Boundless platform for benefits is that our it sits on top of our employment solution, meaning the benefit allowance can easily be integrated in the monthly payroll.

The top five benefits employees wish they were offered:  Four-day work week (52%) Bonuses (41%) Additional annual leave (33%) Flexible working (25%) Healthcare (25%)

Our research shows that people don’t want benefits to be mandated from on high. They want the flexibility to pick and choose the options that are most relevant to their lives. And as of today, only around half of organisations offer flexible plans, with just 10% giving employees an allowance to allocate as they please. That number is understandable because managing this kind of flexibility, especially across borders, is absolute administrative hell.

It’s time for everyone to get smarter about benefits – what you offer, how you deliver it, and how you manage it. Flexible, self-managed benefit packages are the future of benefits provision, and it’s worth making the switch sooner rather than later, because if you don’t offer people more flexibility, there’s every chance one of your rivals might seize the initiative and take your valuable member of staff. 

To learn more about how Boundless can help you deliver and manage winning benefits packages seamlessly across borders, alongside employing people in those countries, visit https://boundlesshq.com/borderless-benefits/ and chat with an expert today.

The making available of information to you on this site by Boundless shall not create a legal, confidential or other relationship between you and Boundless and does not constitute the provision of legal, tax, commercial or other professional advice by Boundless. You acknowledge and agree that any information on this site has not been prepared with your specific circumstances in mind, may not be suitable for use in your business, and does not constitute advice intended for reliance. You assume all risk and liability that may result from any such reliance on the information and you should seek independent advice from a lawyer or tax professional in the relevant jurisdiction(s) before doing so.

Written by Dee Coakley

Before founding international employment platform, Boundless, Dee Coakley was a three-time COO, having spent 10 years with B2B SaaS businesses (Masabi, Bizimply & Axonista). In her COO roles, she experienced first-hand the operational challenges of setting up employees in new countries, and so set about building a solution. Boundless handles cross-border HR compliance and payroll for small and mid-size businesses, removing the barriers to growing teams internationally.

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