The pandemic and consequently the ‘new normal’ of remote working has completely reshaped how businesses communicate with and care for staff. It’s becoming vitally apparent that employees require a benefits scheme that is relevant to their needs, easy to navigate and provides crucial support when they are faced with a critical life event.
The team at Reframe recently surveyed 2,000 employees and HR decision makers in the UK to assess how businesses are investing in employee benefits in light of the pandemic. They found that just under half (49%) of UK businesses believe that the health and wellbeing of their employees will be their biggest challenge over the next 18 months. However, 1 in 5 (18%) employees admitted that they would hide a health concern such as stress, fatigue or a diagnosis from their employer.
The results show that health and wellbeing is front of mind for many firms. However, it is alarming to think that across many workplaces, there still remains a stigma around communicating health concerns and this is a problem that needs addressing. What is even more concerning is that the data reflects a growing disconnect between decision makers and their employees. 80% of HR decision makers said they are satisfied that their employee benefits scheme is highly relevant, whereas in reality, only 28% of employees agree with this.
It is evident that many firms are playing catch up when it comes to supporting the needs of their workforce. This is a problem because effective benefits schemes are a crucial part of building and maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. This can also have a huge impact on attracting and retaining talent – with our study highlighting that 68% of under 35s see benefit schemes as an important factor when choosing an employer.
The solution? Employers must focus on honing their benefit schemes to enable employees to take control of their health and wellbeing, so that they can better engage in their health on an ongoing basis and make the right decisions every day. When it comes to choosing benefits, flexibility and personalisation are extremely important to 75% of surveyed employees. These schemes must be all-encompassing – addressing their physical, financial, emotional and social wellbeing, so that individuals are able to balance their holistic needs in the long-term.
Additionally, this provides an opportunity for employers to deliver on their commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives. With many people now more digitally connected than ever, businesses should ensure that the services on offer are easy to access and simple to navigate. Just over two thirds (68%) of employees felt positively about using technology that allows them to better manage their benefits. Not only can technology enhance engagement, it can streamline access and remove repetitive administration, offering a seamless and personalised service for individuals.
Many firms have suffered financially during the pandemic and with so much uncertainty still present, it is important that businesses remain agile and tailor benefits and staff policies to business challenges. As lockdown restrictions ease, a holistic approach to employee welfare with an effective benefits package will lead to better ROI, reduced health premiums and absence rates. In the medium to long-term, it will help attract and retain talent, whilst maintaining a happy, motivated workforce. Catherine McDermott, CEO at Reframe