Employee benefits and flexible working lead the way in the war for talent

Latest research from employee benefits provider Unum UK on attitudes to work and employee support suggests employers that helped their people navigate the challenges of the pandemic and responded most successfully have been rewarded by employee loyalty and happiness at work.

The war for talent has never been greater with vacancies currently at an all-time high, but when employees were asked why they remained in the same role as before the pandemic, over half (55%) cited that their employer simply handled the pandemic well.

The increased shift towards flexible working since the start of the pandemic seems set to stay if companies are to attract and retain future talent, with Unum’s research finding that 58% of workers aged 18-34 feel more productive now than before the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, this makes transitioning employees back to work after an extended period of remote working delicate. More than half (54%) of this same age group stating they would quit their jobs, or plan to, if their company removed the option for remote or hybrid working.

More than 1 in 5 (21%) were happy with the flexible working approach their employer offered and 19% felt their company culture had changed for the better since the COVID-19 outbreak.

294,000 people in the UK left their jobs to move to another one after resigning between April – June 2021 — the highest number since 2018 and up by 38% in the previous quarter — as momentum gathers pace in what’s been dubbed as ‘The Big Quit’.

Another area employers need be aware of is in the importance of high-quality employee benefits. For example, a fifth of surveyed employees felt their employers failed to look after their mental (21%) and physical health (22%) during the pandemic.

Among workers who wanted to change jobs or did so during the pandemic, 23% said it was because their employer did not offer high quality benefit packages or support.

Mark Till, CEO of Unum UK commented: “While salary still factors into decision-making over potential job moves, our research proves just how much value employees place on the quality of benefits and wellbeing support being provided. You just can’t get away with having one but not the other. The workforce, in particular younger employees, belonging to this new hybrid world have made job expectations crystal clear. A combination of agile benefits, mental and physical support and a sense of autonomy and trust is the only way businesses will keep their staff loyal, happy, engaged and successful in the long run.”