Employee experience gains importance in benefits offer

Free fruit and snacks are among the many expectations employees now have of their experience at work

More than half of employers plan to develop their “employee experience” in a bid to boost engagement, recruitment and retention, according to benefits company Aon.

Its 2019 Benefits and Trends Survey found that 51% plan to work on their employer value proposition (EVP) or employee experience, compared with 16% last year.

A significant majority of employers believe the strategy will bear fruit for engagement (65%), recruitment (63%) and retention (70%), Aon found. Almost a quarter already have an EVP in place, but around a third of these employers do not communicate it with their staff.

Nearly all (97%) respondents thought that employees’ expectations of their experience at work had changed. Some of the “nice-to-haves“ employers cited included flexible hours, mobile working, free fruit and snacks, emergency childcare support and help for mental health issues.

Employee experience is now a major determining factor in how companies structure benefits, according to Aon, with 72% of companies operating a single benefits strategy across all global locations.

However, only 13.5% have a global technology platform to support this, according to Aon, although 26% are working towards this objective.

More than three-quarters benchmark their benefits with peers. “Employers often use internal and external pay and benefits benchmarking as a core part of their strategy to help decision-making,” said Richard Morgan, principal at Aon. “However, this is an important part of an EVP which employers are seeing as increasingly effective to meet the unique needs of both the business and its employees.”

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He said more organisations were designing benefits packages with employee experience in mind.

“For example, wellbeing, and particularly mental health, are key to the overall employee experience for many organisations, so it’s important to align benefits to support mental health strategies as well as to communicate them effectively to employees.

When it comes to communications, it is likely that employers don’t feel this is successful. They say the biggest challenge they have with benefits is communication, yet most have an annual communications budget of less than £5,000.”

More than three-quarters of respondents to Aon’s survey also felt that an employer should take some responsibility for influencing employee health and changing behaviours. Within that, 62.5% said employees’ financial wellbeing was the responsibility of the employer.

A multi-generational workforce also threw up challenges for employers – 50% felt they were meeting the needs of all generations in their workforce, but 89% felt they would have to change their offer to meet the needs of future generations at work.

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