Employers report changing employee expectations

Almost all (97%) employers agree that employees’ expectations of their experience in the workplace are changing, according to Aon

Aon’s 2019 Benefits and Trends Survey found that employers believe employees’ top priorities are now flexible working hours, agile working, mental health, diversity and inclusion, and parental leave.

Employee expectations are changing most markedly around flexible working, with 98% of respondents saying employees now expect more flexible working hours, while 89% said they expect agile/home working to be available.

Seventy-nine per cent of employers cited employee expectations of better awareness of mental health issues, 65% said better approaches to diversity and inclusion, and 63% improved maternity/paternity/parental leave policies. Access to financial education also featured and was cited by 54%.

Sixty per cent of employers said that their businesses are either already changing or expect to change in the next five years, meaning they are now competing for talent within different market sectors, which is also spelling a change to the demographics of the organisation. Despite this recognition, half (50%) of respondents said that their current benefits do not meet the needs of all generations, while 89% said they will need to change their benefits offering to meet the needs of future generations.

Richard Morgan, strategic consultant at Aon, said that organisations recognise that their current benefit programmes do not reflect the changes in the workforce: “The results from this year’s survey clearly show that the majority of respondents have either already undergone fundamental change or expect to in the near future... This affects an organisation’s workforce model and has consequences on an employee’s role fulfilment, the types of people who fill those roles, as well as the organisations they compete with for talent. Employers therefore acknowledge that their current benefit programmes are not set up to meet the needs of their people.

Morgan highlighted the impact generational differences have on the type of benefits employees want to be offered. “When it comes to employee demographics – although age is unlikely to define people – there are external factors that differ and continue to change, so the issues that one generation faces are often quite different to the generations before and after them," he said.

"For example: Baby Boomers largely enjoyed final salary pensions and are likely to be relatively much better off in retirement. Owning one’s own home is much less common among 25 to 34 year olds, especially in London, while the ‘sandwich generation’ is emerging with people having caring responsibilities for both their children and their parents.”

Morgan added: ”How employers respond to these changes will define how successfully they can implement their future workforce plans.”

Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey, now in its ninth year, is formed from the responses of more than 200 employers of all sizes.