How employers will use employee benefits to attract and retain the best staff in 2020

Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing is advising organisations to carefully review and introduce more innovative employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees.

Cheryl Brennan, Director of Corporate Consulting said,

“With an ageing population, increased focus on mental wellbeing, corporate social responsibility, gender pay reporting, an NHS under strain and a current estimated social care funding gap of £1.5 billion (rising to a  £3.5 billion gap by 2024/25), the role of the employer in creating solutions to support employees’ needs is greater than ever. Having the right employee benefits and wellbeing solutions in place can increase staff loyalty, engagement, support recruitment and reduce business risks.”

Several of the most popular employee benefits are still the traditional ones such as a competitive salary, flexible working, a pension and paid leave. Health insurance, private medical insurance, income protection and life insurance are also highly valued. However, there is a far greater focus on employee health and wellbeing.

Companies are beginning to realise the importance of offering health and wellbeing benefits which cover physical, mental and financial wellbeing. As a result, alongside discounted gym memberships, organisations are offering their employees health checks at work or apps that provide virtual GP services 24 hours a day.

Mental health will be a major focus area for companies this year, as mental health issues are increasingly being perceived as a major business risk. Figures from the Centre for Mental Health, highlighted that mental health issues are costing UK businesses £34.9bn a year and many employers are increasing their support and implementing mental health strategies.

Whereas previously, they may have just had an EAP service in place, they are now looking at introducing robust strategies and support, with mental health workshops, mental health training for staff as well as other technology led solutions.

For example, in 2019, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing launched an NHS approved mental health app – Havensrock Thrive that employees can use to  monitor their mental wellbeing daily. A key part of this service is that employees can be connected directly to mental health nurses from RedArc if they need additional support.

Another growth area is financial wellbeing. Research from Salary Finance last year showed that 40% of UK employees are worried about money, more so than their health or careers. Other new research from You Gov highlighted that half of UK workers don’t expect to be able to fund their preferred lifestyle in retirement and 41% don’t understand how their pension works.

By providing workplace financial education, employers can equip employees of all ages with the skills to better manage their finances, make good financial decisions and plan for a more secure retirement.

We are seeing more companies offering financial education, with workshops on a broad range of subjects from mortgages to retirement planning, as well as employee finance solutions being made available to support those who are perhaps in debt.

To ensure the right benefits solutions, the most savvy companies are using data and analytics to really understand their workforce demographics and their specific health issues and risks and designing data-led customised strategies that directly address these needs.

This move to data led and personalised benefits will become increasingly important, particularly in light of our changing workforce demographics. Employees aged 51-74 years now make up a large proportion of the workforce and have different benefits and needs from those in their 20s starting their careers. Older workers may be juggling elderly care, for example, and want more flexible working arrangements.

There is also real desire for more innovative employee benefits packages to be delivered as organisations improve their duty of care to staff and actively look after the health and wellbeing of their employees.

As we move forward in 2020, it is clear employee benefits are far more about overall wellbeing and personalisation for the employee. There are a wide-range of employee benefits available to organisations today to ensure they are providing staff with the very best support and care, and we would strongly encourage more employers to review their benefits packages and seek professional advice in how to develop the very best employee benefits solutions.

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