Meeting multi-generational needs named top benefits challenge facing UK employers
More than half (56%) of UK employers believe that meeting the diverse needs of a multi-generational workforce will be their number one employee benefits challenge over the next three years.
Despite this recognition, the 2019 Benefits Trends Survey from Willis Towers Watson found that less than half of employers (49%) claim to understand their workforce requirements and just 36% have tailored their benefits portfolios to meet their needs.
“As each generation marches relentlessly onwards to the next stage of their lives, and the stretch between age groups becomes more pronounced, the pressing need to cater for their diverse and ever-changing needs becomes more and more apparent,” said Mark Ramsook, senior director at Willis Towers Watson Health & Benefits, Great Britain & Western Europe.
“The survey findings bear this out and the time for employers to act is now. With a dramatic increase in the number of people aged over 70 remaining in employment, today’s workforce can now comprise of up to five generations – from silent generation workers through to their youngest, Gen Z colleagues.
“The complimentary attributes of youth and experience can deliver significant business value but, at the same time, each generation has differing requirements and expectations. This calls for a flexible approach to benefits strategies that reflects the needs of all employees, maximises inclusivity and engagement, while ensuring the employee population feels valued.
“When designing their benefits programmes, organisations should take the pulse of their workforces to avoid falling foul of misapprehensions based on demographic stereotypes. In some cases, benefits will be equally valued across the generational divide. Pensions, for example, remain the most popular employee benefit, irrespective of age.”
Hot on the heels of the multi-generational workforce challenge, the Benefits Trends Survey found that the perennial challenge of rising benefits costs was a concern for 51% of employers, while 46% cited the challenge of communicating benefits choices.
Elsewhere, the survey found that the talent experience topped the agenda of benefits priorities for the coming three years, with almost three-quarters (72%) of businesses planning to focus on benefits engagement and delivery.
83% said they were looking to enhance the communication of benefits, 70% are set to prioritise online portals and apps, while two-thirds (66%) will implement or enhance employee self-service.
“Strong levels of benefits engagement are intrinsically linked to an organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent,” Ramsook added.
“Furthermore, by raising the talent experience bar employers may see a significant uplift in ROI (return on investment) and VOI (value on investment), vindicating their programme strategy and benefits spend.”