Within recent months, we have seen an increased demand in the market for Benefits professionals across all sectors. This demand signifies the importance of total reward in our current market, in terms of engaging existing employees and attracting talent externally. Whilst the core elements of traditional reward packages such as salary, bonus and pensions are still of great importance to employees, many organisations have had to adapt their benefits strategies in order to remain competitive. The mind-set has shifted towards non-financial reward and the overall EVP.
Engagement & Recruitment
In the past, benefits have often been viewed as secondary to compensation due to increased inflation, the cost of living and rising transport costs - cash was king. More recently, there seems to have been a shift in the priorities of our workforce and the “millennial mind-set” is a topic that has come under much debate - perhaps as a result of technological advancements and more flexible working opportunities. Fundamentally, there seems to be a change in values in this generation and a great awareness of social responsibility and community, supported by the youth turnout at our recent general election, where it has been reported nearly two thirds of under 35s back the Labour party in a 12 point increase in turnout. The loud roars of the crowd at Glastonbury festival chanting “OH JE-REM-Y COR-BYN” serve as evidence of this. Benefits as a tool for attraction and engagement seem to be a way in which we can bridge the gap between the senior population of our workforce and the younger generation of professionals. Flexible benefits platforms have allowed organisations to tailor to the individual requirements and priorities of the employee. The sense that employees want to feel valued and appreciated by their organisation is high on the list of priorities and equally, the desire to become an employer of choice remains firmly on the agenda.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Private medical insurance has traditionally been the dominant healthcare offering in the market, however, an increased awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues has seen the onus shift slightly, with many organisations now offering support on this front. The announcement from Theresa May earlier this year introducing reforms to improve mental health support in the UK, with a review due to take place into mental health practices in the workplace and looking at how best to support employees through this reflects the importance of this on the agenda. Recent campaigns by Princes William and Harry through the Heads Together Foundation have cemented this at the forefront of people’s minds. Figures published by the Mental Health Foundation state that 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year. Whilst in the past mental health issues may have had negative connotations for organisations that associated them with stress and pressure, this demonstrates a shift in culture and changing attitudes.
Flexible Working Arrangements
In a recent survey conducted by Employee Benefits almost two thirds of respondents offered flexible working initiatives, something that is becoming increasingly important to individuals in terms of their search for a new role. With the changes we have seen in technology, the line between work life and home life has become somewhat blurred, with the expectation being that people are always contactable via various channels. In January 2017, a new law came into place in France that gives employees the right to avoid work emails outside of working hours. With a greater emphasis on work-life balance, particularly within the younger generation of our workforce, flexibility is often a key decision maker for those looking to change jobs. Having met with senior directors from both leading consultancies and household banks, these organisations have reduced desk space to circa 0.8 desks per person in order to encourage flexible working. This serves to cut costs for the business, as well as aligning them to the aforementioned values.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Engaging the workforce through CSR and promoting this as a tool to attract talent, has proven to be crucial for many organisations in terms of boosting the success of benefits schemes and increasing staff motivation. Deloitte’s global millennial survey, published earlier this year found that 35% of millennials that were offered the chance to support or donate to charitable causes via their organisations, were likely to stay at that organisation for more than five years. Encouraging employees to engage in activities that make them feel rewarded in this way serves to boost trust in their organisation, and ultimately make them feel proud to work somewhere that is known for its positive contributions to society. Our own experiences at The SR Group have proven that an active CSR programme, which in our case includes well-considered employee engagement, pro bono and D&I components, can have a considerable positive impact on both the recruitment and retention of staff.
Total Reward Statements (TRS)
Shifting trends in technology have also put the way we communicate at the forefront of people’s minds, perhaps as a result of the social media landscape. This is linked to how total reward is communicated to employees and how they value the total reward package that they receive. Better communication around benefits and the technology to facilitate the use of benefits by employees, are important ways in which organisations can bolster engagement with their schemes. TRS that are catered to individual employees show them the total value of their package and can be categorised into certain areas such as financial, lifestyle or health and wellbeing. It can be a challenge to demonstrate this; therefore Total Reward Statements allow employees to access this information in one place. Whilst this sounds simple enough, this can be difficult to coordinate and data integrity issues often make this even more complicated.
It is becoming ever more apparent that this topic is going to shape recruitment strategies moving forwards and given the increased legislative changes coming into place that impact financial reward, it will be interesting to see how benefits offerings change and develop over the coming years. Many organisations are looking at global solutions that are consistent across brands and markets, whilst others still look for regional offerings that cater to cultural differences. Either way, this continues to be a key driver within the London recruitment market and the shifting social and economic culture. We have certainly seen a rise in the links between attrition and misalignment between the values of the individual and the organisation, rather than moves focusing purely around cash compensation.