The firm's data also showed that while 80% said benchmarking against the competition was vital, 20% were unclear what sector to benchmark against.
The data was gathered courtesy of Aon Employee Benefits' new strategic benchmarking tool The Benefits Score, which measures the success of a benefits strategy and generates a score between one and 100, with 100 being the best outcome.
Around 20 medium to large UK businesses from the finance, insurance, technology, communications, professional services, energy, utilities, mining, healthcare and transportation industries took part in a trial before its official launch this month.
Jackie Buttery, rewards, benefits and client insight consultant, and former global head of reward and benefits at Herbert Smith Freehills, commented that many businesses struggle to find the right model of measuring the return on investment (ROI) of their employee benefits scheme, with some easier to measure than others and little information available on the competition. She told HR magazine that many HR professionals are looking to less financial metrics, such as employee engagement, as a means of quantifying the data.
Buttery said that benchmarking engagement improvements within an organisation, using internal surveys for example, is important but that it's also vital to compare against the competition and that the right technology is needed for accurate measurement.
She said, however, that thought leadership and new technologies are improving this situation. “There is a lot of thought leadership out there from reward practitioners and if you are well enough informed you will already be informally benchmarking your own efforts against what else is going on in the wider industry," she said.
She added: “There is still a journey for many organisations to join the dots and some of the fantastic technology coming onto the market now is helping them do that.”
Buttery said that employers were “playing catch-up” to the consumer world, where e-commerce firms are adept at using algorithms and other technologies to track and channel targeted information.
“Employer and benefits technology on the other hand has been a bit clunky and not very sophisticated by comparison, but emerging technology is really doing great things to push the employee experience just as business is trying to further the consumer experience,” she added.
Jeff Fox, principal at Aon Employee Benefits, commented: “It is normal for many organisations to say they need positive ROI from their benefits programmes, especially when it comes to tax efficiency.
“We understand that HR is managing a complex process to attract and retain skilled employees in a highly competitive labour market while keeping costs under control, but when we ask if they know what their ROI is the answer is usually no, or that they don’t know how to measure it.”
He added: “The need to benchmark is usually a demand from senior management to find out what similar companies are doing. But in reality the most important benchmark appears to be the organisation itself, what matters to them, and how they define strategy.”