Almost two-thirds of those responsible for benefits and rewards provision polled in an exclusive survey for Reward & Benefits Today support extending care vouchers beyond childcare.
About 63% of comp and bens managers and HR directors polled said they were in favour of extending care vouchers beyond childcare, while 28% said they had no opinion on the issue, and 8% were against the idea.
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Research undertaken independently by Reed Business Insight
Our debate, featured on page 31,highlights the division of opinion on the issue. Iain McMath, managing director at Sodexho Pass, supports extending care vouchers, especially for those who have care responsibilities for the elderly.
He is in favour of a “generic care voucher” that would operate in a similar way to childcare vouchers.
However, the survey found that childcare vouchers were rated by just 8% of respondents as the most important benefit in the current economic climate.
Pensions were judged the most important benefit by 45% of those polled, with a sharp drop to other benefits such as employee assistance programmes (13%), financial education (10%), and life assurance (5%).
The research also found many respondents are facing pressure on their benefits budgets. When asked what was the extent of pressure they faced to reduce benefits budgets in 2009, 19% said a great extent, 47% some extent, and 35% no extent at all.
Car benefits were deemed the likeliest benefit to be cut or downgraded by 30% of those polled. Some 13% of respondents said that pensions were likely to be cut. Childcare vouchers and cycle schemes are, according to the results, among those benefits least likely to be trimmed.
Although respondents agreed pensions were the most important benefit, when it came to a free money-no-object benefits choice, they had other ideas. Some 25% said they would like private healthcare and medical insurance, 14% plumped for gym membership, and 8% wanted health screenings and assessments, while 6% would like a company car.
Only 3% said they would like an improved pension. The same percentage wanted a final salary pension.
One respondent said she’d like “unlimited swimming”, while another wanted “free chiropody”,and one desired “reflexology and massage sessions for all staff”.
The survey also emphasised the rising importance of stress as a workplace issue, with 37% of respondents saying it was of great concern, and 60% agreeing it was of some concern. Just 2% said it was of no concern.
There was also a public/private sector split on this issue, with 45% of public sector respondents saying employee stress was a cause for great concern compared to 36% of those polled in the private sector.