Younger staff less likely to take up flexible benefits

Employees in their 20s are less likely to use flexible benefits schemes than older workers.

According to HR and management consultancy Mercer, the flexible benefits participation rate for employees in their 20s averages 47% compared to between 67% and 70% for staff in their 30s, 40s and 50s. It bases these figures on a recent analysis of data on benefits uptake supplied by 20 UK organisations employing in total more than 66,000 staff.

Mercer said one reason for lower take-up among younger employees is that flexible benefits schemes are more relevant to employees with dependants. For example, take-up for partner life assurance is 15% for employees in their 30s, but just 5% for those in their 20s. Critical illness cover is taken up by 13% of staff in their 20s, but by 22% in their 30s.

Tony Morgan, Mercer principal, said employers should think about the needs of staff in their 20s when selecting benefits. “More should be done to support them in meeting the financial burdens they face,” he said. “In particular the need to pay off student loans and secure their first homes.”

He also thinks that ‘green’ benefits would appeal to younger employees.

The research indicated that gender made little difference to benefits take-up except in one area – buying and selling holidays. Some 19% of women covered by the research bought extra days’ holiday compared to 11% of men. Male employees (9%) were more likely to sell their holidays than females (3%).

Another Mercer survey, Leading Through Unprecedented Times, found 29% of respondents had added wellness programmes to their benefits provision, while a further 38% said they were highly likely to do so.

The research found that 94% of respondents said they had not cut health benefits programmes, but most of those polled had increased employee contributions to such schemes.

The survey was undertaken in May among 2,100 employers worldwide.

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