Employee Benefits Are a Priority for Job Seekers Due to Cost of Living Problems

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This coming year, there is an expected rise in prospective employees placing increasing importance on a comprehensive suite of employee benefits. The emphasis on these benefits comes as a response to the challenges posed by the cost of living crisis. This article will cover the statistics, explore the workforce’s preferences for 2024, and understand how employee benefits contribute to both individual well-being and overall business success.

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The Rising Significance of Employee Benefits

According to a recent report by Zest, more than half (55%) of job seekers in the 18 to 34 age group consider a robust benefits package the most crucial factor when searching for a job. This underscores a shifting trend where employee benefits are not merely viewed as additional perks but as essential components of the overall employment package. For employers, recognising the growing significance of these benefits can be pivotal in attracting and retaining top talent.

Aligning Benefits with Workforce Preferences

The survey of 2,000 UK employees and 500 HR decision-makers revealed a mismatch between the benefits desired by workers and those offered by employers. While private medical insurance topped the list with 32% of employees expressing a desire for it, only 26% of businesses provided this worker benefit. This misalignment highlights the importance of not only offering benefits but also ensuring they resonate with the workforce’s aspirations.

The Benefits Landscape in 2024

Looking ahead to 2024, the workforce’s preferences for benefits become even more pronounced. The annual SHRM Employee Benefits Survey found key benefits that are in demand by employees:

  • Leave Benefits:

81% of respondents in the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey rated leave benefits as either “very important” or “extremely important.”

Examples include generous leave allowances, paid time off (PTO), and family leave, catering to the desire for a healthier work-life balance.

  • Health Benefits:

89% of survey participants considered healthcare benefits “very important” or “extremely important.”

Health benefits may encompass wellness schemes, employee healthcare plans, reproductive care and personal injury insurance, reflecting a growing focus on both physical and mental well-being.

  • Flexible Working:

The importance of flexible working has escalated, with over 25% of employees preferring it over a pay rise.

Options such as remote working, flexible hours, and annualised hours give employees greater control over their work-life balance.

The Impact of Employee Recognition on Business

Recognising the workforce’s contributions and achievements is a pivotal aspect of a holistic workplace benefits strategy. The emotional impact of recognition cannot be overstated. When employees receive acknowledgement for their efforts, it uplifts them, empowers them, and fosters a sense of confidence. This positive emotional state has a ripple effect, contributing to a more connected and engaged workforce.

Beyond the emotional impact, strategically implemented recognition programs contribute tangibly to business success. Co-developed research from Gallup® and Workhuman highlights that recognition, when embedded in the company culture, can lead to substantial cost savings. For instance, a business with 10,000 employees can save a staggering $16.1 million by reducing turnover through effective recognition.

Recognition should fulfil employees’ expectations, be authentic, personalised to the individual, equitable, and embedded in the organisational culture.

The Cost of Living Crisis and Employee Benefits

The current cost of living crisis has amplified the importance of employee benefits. As the Zest report indicates, two-thirds (67%) of younger employees would consider moving to another company if offered a better benefits package. This showcases the direct impact of benefits on talent retention and acquisition, especially in the face of widespread talent shortages.

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As businesses grapple with the challenges of attracting and retaining talent, aligning benefits for staff with wider business goals becomes imperative. The Zest report emphasises the need for organisations to invest in voluntary benefits that cater to diverse workforce needs. Voluntary benefits, when integrated with traditional core benefits, allow employees to choose options that align with their requirements.

Conclusion: Making 2024 the Year of Employee Benefits

The changing needs and economic trends have pushed for the restrategising of organisations’ perceptions and offerings of employee benefits. The cost of living problems magnify the significance of these benefits, making them a significant factor in talent management. 

Employers need to meet the workforce’s expectations and proactively shape benefit packages that align with business goals and employee preferences. Making 2024 the year of a comprehensive and strategic employee benefits package can be the key to attracting, retaining, and nurturing a thriving workforce.

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