Employers and employees at odds on benefits

This article is originally published in the HRD Australia.

Think employers and employees are on the same page when it comes to the value of benefits? Think again.

In fact, 57% of Australian employers believe their benefits packages are a major factor in worker attraction and retention, but only 36% of employees agree that their packages met their needs, according to the 2017 Willis Towers Watson Asia Pacific Benefits Trends Survey.

Moreover, it found the costs of benefits is listed as the number one employer challenge for the next three years by 72% of respondents.

David Rowell, Managing Director of Health and Benefits for Willis Towers Watson Australia and New Zealand, said that with a sixth of employers in Australia paying 20% or more of their payroll on benefits, this is an important cost to get right.

“Even more extraordinary is that one in four employers in Australia don’t know their level of spending on benefits,” he said.

“But the perception gap between employers and employees clearly needs to be addressed.

“Employers need more insight into what their employees actually think and they need to improve their implementation and communication.”

The research also found that 48% of employers rated wellbeing programmes of most importance to employees, compared to 41% who identified healthcare benefits.

Even though traditional health, disability and life insurance benefits continue to be the most prevalent, there is a move to broader benefits. Australian employers were asked if they offered or planned to introduce a range of expanded benefits over the next three years:

  • 74% said they would consider behavioural/emotional health management programmes
  • 55% identified activity-based wellbeing programmes
  • 50% identified lifestyle risk management.

The survey recommended that employers should ensure benefits design and delivery is agile and takes into account the needs of a diverse workforce.

HRD also recently spoke to Kylie Green, director of consulting at Reward Gateway, about how to ensure your benefits are relevant across a diverse employee demographic.

“A strong employee value proposition always has the backing of a comprehensive benefits program,” said Green.

“But ensuring your benefits are comprehensive, relevant and resonate with all your people can be a real challenge when you have a diverse employee demographic.”

Green said a good place to start is with a thorough benefits review which should:

  • Encompass all employee groups
  • Review industry benefits benchmarking and trends (such as Mercer’s Australian Benefits Review)
  • Include benefits feedback from surveying employees
  • Conduct a competitive market review to highlight the ‘base’ benefits level for your market and discover your opportunities for gaining a competitive edge in recruitment and retention.

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