Employers to prioritise career development, wellbeing and flexibility

The majority of employers (97 percent) are planning to maintain or increase how much they spend on employee benefits over the next two years, according to new research published today by the CIPD and LCP. In the latest ‘Reward management’ report, released today, 8 in 10 employers (81 percent) said they intend to spend the same amount on employee benefits over the next two years as they currently do, while 16 percent plan to increase their investment to address staff wellbeing and career development.

Respondents said they are most likely to increase investment in professional development (43 percent), which includes training, paid study leave and professional subscriptions; health and well-being (29 percent), covering such occupational sick pay, employee assistance programmes and flu jabs and financial benefits (25 percent), such as pension schemes, loans to help staff in financial hardship and free money and debt advice. One in six employers (17 percent) expect to invest in a formal work-life balance policy, which can include flexible working and shared parental leave arrangements. The report claims that when there are a higher number of women in management positions an organisation is more likely to already have a formal work-life balance policy in place.

Charles Cotton, senior reward and performance adviser at the CIPD, commented: “Despite the recent economic and political uncertainty, employers are committed to investing in their employees and their future. It’s encouraging to see the benefits that have been earmarked for further spend in the near future relate to people development and well-being. Spending in these areas can help to improve employee, and ultimately, corporate performance.”

But the CIPD and LCP’s report warns that any extra investment in benefits risks being undermined by the lack of analysis employers carry out. The majority of respondents (74 percent) said they don’t currently conduct a review of their benefit spend, so could be missing the opportunity to establish how effective their benefits are. This is despite benefits playing an important role in helping organisations succeed, with two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents saying their main purpose was to attract, recruit and retain staff to support current business needs.

Charles Cotton continues: “The people profession has an important role to play in analysing spend on benefits to see if the business, its people and other key stakeholders are getting maximum value from them. Analysis provides crucial evidence for making changes for the better if this is not the case.”

The report also reveals that 16 percent of employers do not always communicate what benefits are on offer and 1 in 5 (21 percent) say their benefits are not easily accessible.

Employers are legally required to supply some benefits, such as a pension for automatic-enrolment purposes and paid leave, but can otherwise choose what’s offered as they see fit. Benefits range from social events to more substantial rewards, like Christmas bonuses and company cars. The survey found that currently the ten most popular benefits offered to employees across all sectors (private, public and voluntary/not-for-profit) are:

  • Pension scheme – trust or contract-based
  • Paid leave for bereavement
  • Training and career development
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Occupational sick pay
  • Employee assistance programme
  • Christmas party and/or lunch
  • Free tea and coffee
  • 25 days’ or more paid leave for full-time employees
  • Paid leave for jury service.