Employers must rethink benefits package in unstable times, says HRD

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Employees have become ‘increasingly risk-aware’ since the economic crisis hit. They are concerned their financial worries will continue for the long term and believe there is ‘no end in sight’, according to research by protection provider Unum, seen exclusively by HR magazine.

The research also found that employees are placing less importance on softer benefits and that an increasing number want financial benefits that will provide long-term protection.

Employers must take a "greater responsibility" and start "re- setting what is normal", Angela Williams, HR director at British Gas, told HR magazine.

She said: "We are starting to see a younger generation who have worked for more than one employer, and have an awareness of a wider range of benefits.

"They also have a much higher level of understanding of their benefits than those who have just been with one employer.

"It is this generation that has seen everything rise, apart from its salary and so companies need to be more involved in financial planning and help make their money go further."

Williams added: "We have all got a responsibility to start re-setting what is normal. It seems that we are not going to see another big or small boom for a number of years and so benefits are one thing that can help struggling employees."

The research found employers are living in a culture of outdated benefits. It claims that a third of employers have never undertaken a significant benefits review and one in five undertook their last review before 2008, the year the economic crisis hit and changed the needs of the majority of the workforce

Peter O'Donnell, CEO of Unum, said: "The recession has made employees more risk-aware and concerned about financial stability. The majority are wondering if there is an end in sight to the financial crisis, showing they are presuming their financial instability is here to stay."

He added: "From an employee perspective, it is clear that many of them want a change in their benefits package."