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54% of employees were not consulted about benefits, survey finds

Most (97%) of C-suite execs want better rewards programmes

Over half (54%) of employees have rarely, if ever, been consulted about benefits schemes that directly impact their work-life satisfaction, a report form benefits provider Boostworks has found.

While 54% of employees said that they currently have tailored benefits, the majority reported a desire for more personalised rewards and 90% expressed a preference for immediate rewards that offer real-life benefits, such as extra days off or flexible working hours

A further 47% of employees reported feeling undervalued, believing leaders are out of touch with their reward preferences.

This is despite 97% of C-suite execs having claimed they want better rewards programmes and 87% of HR professionals saying that they intend to update their rewards and recognition programme due to a reported benefits utilisation rate of only 40% by employees.

The survey also found that work anniversaries, birthdays and significant life events. such as births or adoptions of a child. were top of the list of events employees believed should be recognised and rewarded.

Ayshea Robertson, people and culture director at Zen Internet, told HR magazine that she has amended Zen Internet’s benefits in accordance with employee needs.

She said: “Real-life benefits, such as days off and flexible working hours, form an important part of our people-first approach here at Zen. 

“Our people get a day off on their birthday, and we have increased the number and variety of flexible working arrangements we have in place because it is evident this has a direct impact on positive employee engagement and loyalty.”

Read more: Employee benefits lack adequate support for working parents, survey finds

Robertson recommended using feedback surveys to better understand employees’ needs.

She continued: “Feedback around financial wellbeing from our quarterly pulse surveys has led us to increase our activities and resources in this area. 

“We collaborate with our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging networks when reviewing our people policies.

“This has resulted in positive change from the introduction of all-gender toilet facilities, and washroom facilities for our Muslim colleagues, to improved parental support and enhanced maternity leave policies.”

Jo Kansagra, head of people at Virgin Incentives and Virgin Experience Days, told HR magazine that improving benefits based on employee needs has improved the organisation's engagement.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "One of our objectives at Virgin Incentives has always been to continue to grow the business through engaged and high-performing teams, so we introduced a feedback platform and an engagement survey to understand our teams better, and make data-driven decisions that would deliver solid ROI.

"This understanding led us to put in place initiatives which have massively boosted engagement."

Read more: A game of push and pull: how to engage your employees in your vision

Kansagra continued that an open company culture is crucial to encouraging employees to share their feedback.

She added: "We also can’t forget the true value of an open and honest company culture. The workplace should be an environment where employees feel they can talk honestly to their team about what they need out of their employer."

She also noted that gift cards are a popular benefits choice among employees.

Kansagra commented: "Increasingly, we're seeing employers mark smaller reward milestones like work anniversaries, and the appetite for multi-choice gift cards is on the rise.

"These are more flexible and allow employees to use them toward essentials, alleviating some pressure on budgets. For instance, these can be used on a weekly food shop, a meal or day trip out with the family. 

"Ultimately, being more personal with benefits doesn’t have to be difficult or break the bank. Small gifts and rewards can go a long way to make employees feel appreciated.”

Jeanette Wheeler, chief HR officer at HR software provider MHR, explained that technology can be a useful tool for collecting data. 

She told HR magazine: "Technology can be a useful tool, as while many HR leaders collect this data, few have time to analyse it to identify common themes and recurring issues with employee benefits.

“However, digital sentiment analysis, can be used to generate insights on shortfalls in current benefit provisions from regular check-ins, which can often be more reliable than data offered in surveys or focus groups, as not all employees will volunteer their opinions.

“Once you’ve got evidence of how people feel and why, HR leaders are better placed to understand where and how benefits can improve experience, productivity and retention."

Boostworks surveyed 505 C-suite leaders, 502 HR professionals and 2,003 employees.