Employers lack knowledge on employee benefits preferences


Speakers at the DAM event discuss the types of benefit preferred, benefits' recruitment impact, and future limits to what employers will be able to offer

Employers do not have a wide enough understanding of what their employees want from benefit schemes, according to Steve Rockey, head of people at restaurant chain Big Easy.

Speaking at the launch event of the DAM Employee Benefits 2035 report, Rockey explained that people's preferences change over time so employers must ensure they stay up-to-date. “As an employer you may be missing out on some big areas. For example, [we have found] the younger generation are keen on getting financial advice as a benefit.

“In my experience, as businesses get bigger benefits become more and more expected,” he added.

Zuleika Fennell, chief operating officer at restaurant group Corbin and King, said that while benefits are a great, even must-have, retention tool, they may not translate to being a good recruitment tool. “They just aren’t tangible until you are in the organisation,” she explained.

She also warned that the government “squeezing” employers might impact the benefits some organisations can offer. “Minimum wage increases and the national living wage come into force in April,” she said. “The government is pushing employers harder and smaller businesses are being crippled by this. They may start to see the benefits platform as something that can be cut.”

Regarding the types of benefits valued Stacey Lawrence, head of HR at premium hotel The Dorchester, commented: “One of our most popular benefits is free accommodation in our hotels. Employees ask: ‘you mean I can stay for free? I can stay here every weekend?’ We say ‘absolutely, yes!’ These benefits are the things that set us apart.”

Russell Davidson, managing director of DAM, said the results of the Employee Benefits 2035 report show that many employees would prefer benefits in the form of a ‘pot’ of money to choose with. “That would be the ideal,” he said. “However, the reality and practicality of that is somewhat different.

“Most employers also feel a sense of paternalism towards staff, and want to look after them in whatever way they feel is right,” he added.

Read the full DAM Employee Benefits 2035 statistics in the October issue of HR magazine.