Employee Benefits

Evolving employee priorities: Employees are demanding better experiences in reward and benefits 


So much has changed since we conducted our last employee research study in 2022. The world has thankfully moved on from the worst of the pandemic but, in many ways, the levels of uncertainty and anxiety that people are feeling in their day-to-day lives has only increased.  

Rising energy prices and soaring costs of living are placing more and more employees under financial strain. Political and social unrest is being felt in almost every corner of the world, and digitisation and technological innovation are leading to seismic shifts in human behaviour. And all of this is having a profound impact on mental health and every aspect of wellbeing.  

At the same time, workers are giving greater consideration to what they want from work, what they expect from their employer and, bigger picture, how their job aligns with their own personal values and purpose.  

Our latest research shows employee priorities are evolving against a backdrop of uncertainty

If our 2022 study uncovered the ‘great expectations’ that employees were starting to direct towards their employers, this new research exposes the extent to which employees’ needs and priorities are now evolving at speed. 

Across the board, workers are looking for employers to do more to support them, both inside and outside of the workplace. Expectations have risen in relation to every experience people have at work – how employers protect and promote employee wellbeing, the benefits packages that they offer, and the recognition and rewards they provide. Our research indicates that employee expectations are rising even more quickly than they were a year ago.  

Most significantly, the things that are important to employees have changed. Employee experience, benefits provision and recognition have become more important considerations to employees, fundamental to how they think about their employer and their desire to join or remain with an organisation.  More than half (52%) of employees report that their expectations around benefits provision have risen over the last 12 months, and 51% state that they now expect to get greater recognition for the work they do.  

Employees see benefits, employee experience and wellbeing as interlinked

The biggest shift in attitudes can be seen in relation to employee benefits, where employees are taking a much greater interest in their employer’s offering. By necessity, employees have become more focused on benefits as a way to get help with their financial wellbeing and additional protection against the impact of illness and injury. 

The benefits most valued by employees are almost exclusively related to financial and physical wellbeing. Employees are recognising a direct correlation between the benefits that are available to them and every aspect of their own, personal wellbeing. 

Employees report marginal improvements but want employers to do more to understand their needs

The research uncovers some encouraging signs of progress across most areas of the employee experience. A greater proportion of employees feel ‘very well’ looked after by their employer than they did 12 months ago; more employees describe their experience at work as excellent; and more state that they feel recognised for their efforts at work. 

However, these increases are slight and, overall, there is a feeling that employers could be doing more to meet evolving employee needs. In particular, employees believe that employers should be focusing on providing more personalised and relevant benefits which support their wellbeing and align with their values.  

There is also a widely held view (stronger than last year) that employers should be better deploying technology to improve all of their experiences at work. Employees are becoming increasingly frustrated that the technology they are forced to use at work is so far behind the apps and devices they use in their personal lives. 

Employers must evolve the employees experiences at pace

As we present our new, 2023 research, the thing that stands out perhaps more than anything else is the scale of the challenge that employers now face in keeping pace with a dynamic, constantly evolving landscape.  

Employee needs and priorities are shifting at ever great speed and employers rewards and benefits have to evolve accordingly. This is absolutely critical for business and HR leaders to deliver the world-class employee experiences that are essential to attract and retain the very best people in a fiercely competitive labour market. 

The onus ion employers to protect and support their employees, both inside and outside of work, has intensified. But providing a world-class employee experience is becoming harder. In 2021, 51% of employers thought that their employee experience is excellent; in 2023, just 32% say that their employee experience is excellent.  

What actions can employers take to meet these needs?

Throughout the research, there is strong evidence that HR and Reward professionals regard employee benefits as the key to addressing their most important, strategic priorities – protecting and promoting employee wellbeing, engagement and productivity, and attracting and retaining high quality talent. Wellbeing is now the principal driver and biggest goal for employee benefits, and its importance will continue to grow over the next two years.  

Read the Evolution report  

Benefex’s new Evolution report explores the evolving relationship between global employers and employees – and how reward and benefits are adapting to changing employee needs. This year, to explore both sides of the relationship in depth, we’ve created two white papers: The Employee Edit and The Employer Edit. The first part, The Employee Edit, is informed by more than 2,000 interviews with employees across 4 continents. Read it here.

Matt Macri-Waller, Founder and CEO, Benefex

Matt Macri-Waller, Founder and CEO, Benefex

Matt is a global thought leader and Founder & CEO of Benefex. His mission is simple: Everyone deserves to have an exceptional employee experience, every day. Matt is part of the Advisory Board for KPMG’s Global Fintech 100 business, and for Salary Finance. He’s been nominated as a ‘Business Hero’ by The Times, and secured a place within the Reward100 most influential leaders in the Reward and Benefits Industry. 

Niko Rowe

Niko Rowe

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