A worrying 60% of company talent is dissatisfied with their benefits plans as 7 out of 10 businesses deliver irrelevant rewards to local markets

LONDON, 28th September 2016 – Only 7 percent of global HR professionals are consistently delivering against their benefits plan objectives according to the latest research from Thomsons Online Benefits.

The Global Employee Benefits Watch 16/17 reveals that nearly 90% of employers view attracting talent and improving engagement as their top benefits objectives. However, almost as many (70%) are struggling to deliver effective plans for local markets and, as a result, improve employees’ understanding and value of benefits.

The findings from the SaaS provider of global benefits and employee engagement software suggest that HR teams are grappling with two gaps in their benefits strategy:

  • Outmoded technology – This is preventing the analysis of employee benefits data, meaning that employers cannot derive the insights they need to inform effective decision-making
  • Benefits relevance – Teams are struggling to make schemes and communications relevant to a globally diverse employee base

At present, employers’ inability to overcome these hurdles is having a significant impact on employees’ appreciation of their schemes, with over 60 percent of employees dissatisfied with their plan, based on:

  • Over a quarter (27 percent) of employees are dissatisfied with funding levels
  • Almost a fifth (18 percent) are not happy with how they have to interact with benefits
  • 17 percent are unhappy with the way benefits are communicated to them

“Global employers spend a significant amount on benefits1, on average 31 percent of employee salary – but there’s a real risk that they won’t see the full return on this investment,” comments Matthew Gregson, consulting director, Thomsons Online Benefits. “HR professionals understand the link between benefits engagement and broader workplace engagement, but they’re stumbling at the first hurdle – engaging employees in their reward schemes.

“Organisations with the highest performing benefits schemes have shown that overcoming this obstacle isn’t impossible, but depends on unlocking the power of data to take a more personal approach to benefits. Using data analytics, employers can create a global benefits strategy based on quantifiable insights into how employees are interacting with their schemes and the benefits they really want."

Employers that use data analytics have 14 percent higher employee engagement scores than those who do not (73 percent compared to 59 percent). However, 46 percent of HR and reward professionals are honest in saying they don’t yet use analytics at all, and are therefore unlikely to be fully realising their objectives and ROI.

Other key findings from the report include:

Flexibility drives job satisfaction

Employees now have an ever expanding list of demands on their time, and benefits offer the means and opportunity for employers to make their lives simpler and more convenient.

One third of UK and US (34 percent)2 employees rank a flexible work schedule as the most influential factor on their job satisfaction. The same number (34 percent) would opt for unlimited paid time off over an annual salary increase, but less than 15 percent of employees currently receive this benefit.

Furthermore, less than 40 percent of employees feel that their benefits are “very relevant” to their personal situations. This is despite over half (52 percent) of respondents believing that employee benefits should adapt in line with their personal circumstances.

The communications chasm

Part of the problem lies in communications. Almost 70 percent of employees in global organisations want to hear about benefits around key life stages, such as marriage or home purchase, but only 46 percent of employers use these moments as an opportunity to engage with their workforce.

Perceived value of benefits also increases by over 20 percent if employees receive total reward statements, demonstrating the full value of their package.

Taking advantage of tech

Online portals that let employees access their benefits on any device at any time are becoming a critical tool in engaging employees and realising global benefits strategy.

Our research has shown that the technology used to deliver benefits is the most important factor in employees’ perception of their benefits package, and when employees are very satisfied with the technology delivering their benefits, they are almost twice as likely to view their benefits as innovative or unique (93.8 percent vs. 46.6 percent). This is paramount for engagement with their benefits plan overall.

The Global Employee Benefits Watch 16/17 report is available to download from the Thomsons Online Benefits website.

About Thomsons Online Benefits

Thomsons is a SaaS provider of global employee benefits and employee engagement software. Our award-winning platform, Darwin™, is the global market leader for automated employee benefits administration. With over 1 million worldwide users, Darwin™ connects employees with their benefits in over 80 countries and 24 languages. By using the right combination of editions, Darwin™ provides a tailored solution to meet a variety of employee benefit and reward needs, including employee engagement, managing risk, controlling costs and streamlining benefits administration. Its ability to constantly evolve and cater for shifting workforce needs has made it the provider of choice for seven of the world’s top ten technology companies. Thomsons has received 105 industry awards, including the prestigious Brandon Hall Group gold award for Best Advance in Rewards and Recognition Technology in 2015.

Notes to editors:

A total of 448 global HR and reward professionals took part in the online Global Employee Benefits Watch 16/17 survey, conducted in the first half of 2016. Respondents from five geographies participated; North America, Latin America, EMEA (excluding the UK), UK and APAC, representing 41 different sectors. Respondents completed an online questionnaire on the employee benefits they offer and their reward strategy and approach. Alongside the employer survey, Thomson Online Benefits commissioned an employee survey, which was completed by 1,120 employees working for large organisations across eight markets.

1 This is an average global figure but will vary from region to region

2 Statistics in the following two paragraphs were generated using Google Consumer Surveys between September 1st and September 3rd, 2016. This surveyed 850 U.S.-based employees and 500 U.K.-based employees, all at enterprise sized organisations with 5,000 employees+.