By Shabab Maqsud and Michael Atta
Honan Financial Services
Across sectors such as tech, corporate finance and Bio-Med, employee benefit schemes are now one of the most critical weapons in the talent attraction and retention arsenal. While many organisations have typically lent on narrative of ‘commercial success’, the talent game is changing. In today’s era, where technology has inextricably blended work and life like never before, employees are expecting far more than a secure bottom line from their employer.
Metlife’s recently published 2019 Employee Benefits Trend Study (EBTS)* – is extensive and insightful; not only revealing critical trends to be mindful of in 2020, but offering tactical guidance on how to recruit and retain talent in today’s increasingly competitive market.
At Honan, our Top 3 Takeaways from Metlife’s EBTS 2019 Report are:
- UNDERSTAND YOUR PEOPLE: Key Benefit Trends
- PLAN: The Power of Purpose
- IMPLEMENT: Communication is Key
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR PEOPLE: Key Benefit Trends
For organisations to thrive, employers must rethink how they are supporting the holistic experiences of their employees – both in the workplace, and outside of it.
Metlife’s insights revealed Flexible Work Arrangements (47%) to be the most desired benefit, which comes as no surprise thanks to ongoing digital innovations enabling us to work any time, anywhere.
This is closely followed by Training and Development (41%), and Additional Annual Leave (32%). Additional benefits in demand amongst Australians include Salary (44%), Positive Work Environment (44%) and Ongoing Training (43%).
Importantly, the ‘Must-Have’ employee benefits have the following in common:
- Allows employees to achieve personal and work-related goals
- Addresses their main cause of stress – personal finance, retirement and family health.
Conventional benefits such as additional Employer Superannuation Contributions, Additional Personal Leave and Private Medical Insurance continue to be highly valued by employees; allowing them to save towards retirement goals and manage expenses. These perks, combined with supplemental benefits such as Life/TPD and Income Protection Insurance provides a financial safety net for the employees and offer peace of mind.
Whilst Life/TPD and Income Protection insurance are highly desired by employees, it was interesting to note that only 60% of those surveyed understand how such insurances work and the potential benefits they bring. Many employees believe their private health insurance will cover all their health-related expenses, and many fail to plan for out-of-pocket expenses including hospital excess, unexpected costs related to accident and disability, or consequences to loss of income on family and / or lifestyle.
Reviewing standard working hours, Australians poll higher than other OECD countries, and more than half (55%) of employees surveyed now feel stressed – particularly when it comes to personal finances and adequate funds for retirement. At the same time, 71% of employees agree that employers have a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their staff. Hence, there is an overwhelming expectation and responsibility on the employer to take care of their people.
ACTION POINT: Organisations can position themselves as an employer of choice by implementing a unique benefits program that spans a range of traditional and supplemental benefits. A truly differentiated Employee Benefits Scheme (EBS) will add value to employees’ personal and work related goals, and reduce major causes of stress.
2. PLAN – The Power of Purpose
As HR, leadership and high performance organisational research continues to show, addressing employee ‘purpose’ is one of the most powerful investments employers can make.
Employees engaged by an organisation with a clear and united sense of purpose are key allies of the firm. They are more productive, engaged, successful, and as a result, less stressed. We were fascinated to learn that while 93% of employees consider purpose as a ‘must have / nice to have’, only 68% actually feel a strong purpose when working.
But how do employees define ‘purpose’? Across various demographic profiles, the concept of purpose carries a vast array of meanings. For instance, all age groups are heavily focused on accomplishing their daily tasks as being purposeful, however younger generations (Gen Z – aged 18-22) lean toward work with a positive impact on society, while Baby Boomers (aged 53+) are more interested in creating ‘value’ for their employer.
ACTION POINT: The challenge for organisations is to drive a culture that fosters purpose across unique demographics, and furthermore, to communicate this to discrete employee segments. Acknowledging the exceptional value employees bring to their organisations is a great way to encourage a sense of purpose, however employers must also close the gap between what they believe they are doing to ensure employees are appreciated, versus employee expectations, and how employees actually feel.
Red Flag: In terms of employer benefit schemes, one of the largest employer-employee perception gaps exists where 36% of employers feel they are offering a comprehensive benefits package, while only 13% of employees feel the same way.
Blue: what employees think. Pink: what employers think.
3. IMPLEMENT – Communication is Key
Open, ongoing and transparent communication between employer and employee is consistently exhibited by leading organisations. At Honan, our experience with a broad range of clients continues to support this insight. Communication is key – employee benefits play a critical role in allowing organisations and their employees to thrive, but in the absence of supporting internal communications (those carefully tailored to individual employees and teams), such schemes frequently fall flat.
While almost two-thirds (65%) of employees prefer to learn about their benefits through personalised consultations with their employer, most employers communicate through employee handbooks. At Honan, our Benefits Brokers can offer critical support in coordinating team briefings, one-on-one consultations and other proven frameworks to ensure Employee Benefit Scheme (EBS) messages cascade through your workforce in a timely, effective manner.
How can we help?
At Honan, we understand the power of holistic employee benefit schemes, and the exceptional value they can add to your organisation – particularly when respectfully tailored to your people, and supported by quality internal communications.
Our team comes with rich expertise in EBS, and can work collaboratively with you to navigate the complexities and ever-changing nuances of today’s workforce and workplaces. Attracting and retaining top quality talent should be one of your company’s most competitive edges, and we love nothing more than supporting our clients to ensure this is so. With clients across the globe, Honan boasts a vast understanding of the needs of organisations of all sizes operating across varied sectors.
To improve EBS communications with their people, employers should adopt some of the following initiatives:
› Engage with employees as if they were customers – communicating benefits to highlight how it adds value to their lives, rather than just promoting them as standard ‘BAU’ elements of their package.
› Adopt a variety of communication channels to issue EBS updates and details, selecting the most appropriate channel for the particular employee (or employee group), according to their demographic, point in their tenure and nature of the information being communicated. ‘Cultural’ inclinations of each organisation should also be taken into account when considering the best comms channel to adopt.
› Communicating EBS updates throughout the year, instead of awaiting onboarding and / or renewal times only.
Feel free to contact us to discuss your employee benefits proposition at any time:
Shabab Maqsud, Client Manager- Employee Benefits firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Atta, Head of Sales – Employee Benefits email@example.com
*The complete Metlife EBTS 2019 Report can be accessed here: