In today’s COVID-19 environment, one in two (50%) workers admit they’d be willing to sacrifice more of their basic salary to get a personalised employee benefits package, according to new research from MetLife UK.
The fourth and final chapter of MetLife’s Re:Me report, redefine, discusses the importance of employers and employees realigning their needs and expectations. The report found that almost seven in ten (69%) workers admitted they’d work harder for an employer who provides employee benefits that support their individual needs.
The traditional benefits package has evolved, and the desired perks have changed since the start of the pandemic. We are already starting to witness this shift in employers’ approaches to benefits packages as a result. Prior to COVID-19, employers ranked income protection as the 13th most important benefit for employees, yet, this has now risen to 3rd, with employers now viewing it as a vital benefit to offer their staff going forward. Going further, 58% of employees would like to see their benefits package covering all their dependents including their spouse.
While salary remains the most important factor for females aged 50+ (66%), opportunities for personal development are most valued by females aged 18-29 (48%). Flexible working proves to be a universally important perk, but slightly more so for women than men. 57% of women aged 50+ voiced its importance as did 48% of females aged 18-29 and 47% of those aged 30-49. This compares with a 50% ranking for males aged 50+ and just 39% for those aged 18-29.
As employee benefits packages change, employees are urging employers to include them in the decision making on which support packages they should offer. Almost two in three (62%) employees want to ‘shape their benefit packages with their boss’.
Due to COVID-19, employers have also transformed how they talk to their staff about the benefits already available to them, 63% revealed they had seen an increase in employees’ queries about benefits since the pandemic and 61% said they had noticed an increase in the need for mental wellbeing products. Covid-19 has provided a clear opportunity for employers to reflect on the current benefits they offer and re-shape for the needs of modern employees.
Adrian Matthews, EB Director at MetLife UK, comments: “For years businesses have believed that higher pay and job security was the answer to a multitude of problems for employees and while they both remain vital, priorities have changed. Employees are now looking for a much more holistic approach to their benefits package.
“Talk of a four-day week and flexible working had started to make their way into our corporate vocabulary before the pandemic but in practice they were largely left to smaller SMEs or start-ups to introduce. Fast forward to 2021 and we’ve seen a seismic shift in the way we work and where we do it. During the pandemic with social venues closed, the ‘softer’ benefits such as gym memberships and Friday drinks became obsolete and while many of us look forward to socialising after work with a colleague again, more functional benefits such as income protection are proving to be more worthwhile. Benefits valued by employees have changed, as the pandemic has brought health and wellness to the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Ensuring that the benefit packages employers offer suits all members of the team is crucial to protect productivity and encourage loyalty for the long term. Our research found that more than two thirds (69%) of employees ‘will work harder for an employer who provides employee benefits that support my individual needs’. Employers must recognise how the needs of their employees will have changed in the past 12 months and work with them to find practical solutions that can be introduced quickly.”
The transition to working from home has been a well reported challenge for so many and forced employers to quickly adapt their benefits strategies in order to continue support employee’s wellbeing. 39% of employees say that their employer has introduced specific benefits to support them working from home.