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Pensions still number one employee benefit

The COVID-19 pandemic may have made wellbeing and flexible working more important to employees, but pensions have remained the most in-demand employee benefit.

Just under half (41%) of UK employees said a good pension scheme was their number one employee benefit.

Research by receptionist provider Moneypenny found working from home (22%) and flexible working (11%) were the second and third most popular benefit.

Helen Llewellyn, director at Infinity Wellbeing, said it is not surprising that such a constant employee benefit is still the most popular.

She told HR magazine: “With the worry of COVID-19 and the ever-changing rules of what you can or can't do, it's been difficult to plan for tomorrow, never mind 10, 20 or even 40 years ahead.

“Thinking about a pension gives hope that there will be a comfortable future.”

Employee benefits post-pandemic:

Outdated benefits costing businesses talent

Hospitality sector offering more employee benefits

Core benefits need to be extended to all workers

Kate Palmer, HR advice and consultancy director at law firm Peninsula, said the pandemic gave people a lot of time to assess what they deem most important to them.

Speaking to HR magazine she said: "Having enough money to live comfortably later on in life is a top priority over a better work-life balance that can be achieved with flexible working.”

Palmer warned employers not to assume flexible working is the be all and end all for attracting and retaining talent.

“Employers should explore wider reward options, including pension contributions, to match employees’ new motivations,” she said.

Having their employer raise awareness of mental health and general wellbeing was also identified as a high priority for employees post-pandemic, with access to a gym cited as an essential benefit for 12% of respondents.

A variety of wellbeing benefits were also mentioned, including healthcare (3%), annual flu jabs (0.5%), yoga sessions (0.4%), and access to free counselling services (0.2%).

Ceri Henfrey, chief operating officer at Moneypenny, said the pandemic has brought to the fore just how important it is to save for the future. 

She told HR magazine: “As the national retiring age increases, we know that people are keen to have alternative plans so that they can retire earlier when that time arrives for them.

“COVID-19 has significantly impacted people’s lives and they want to make the most of life when they are young enough to go on adventures and spend time being active with their families.”