Top five most sought after benefits revealed

Posted in: Research Last updated: 23 May 2012

British workers favour flexible working hours, employer pension contributions and help towards everyday costs over other perks, according to recent employee benefit research.

Engage Mutual’s Employee Benefit Study revealed that when it comes to perks beyond a salary, most British workers would like flexible working hours (55 per cent), followed by employer pension contributions (54 per cent) and the option of help with everyday healthcare costs (37 per cent).

According to the survey, workplace benefits are so sought-after that nine per cent of working Brits admit they would turn down a job if they were not offered any benefits in addition to salary.  However 38 per cent reported that they don’t receive any benefits at all from their employer.

Customer-owned financial services organisation, Engage Mutual, polled 1,254 working adults across the UK to understand current attitudes around workplace benefits.  The study indicates a trend towards employees seeking perks that provide immediate return and help towards basic living costs, including healthcare (37 per cent) and travel (35 per cent).  In contrast, perceived luxuries such as gym membership, provision of a bike (24 per cent) and money towards specialist treatments, critical illness and injuries (26 per cent) are less favourable.

The top five most sought-after benefits, from a given list, are:

1. Flexible working hours (55 per cent)

2. Company contributions towards a pension (54 per cent)

3. Money towards everyday healthcare costs (37 per cent)

4. Free parking and contribution towards travel costs (35 per cent)

5. Unlimited free meals and soft drinks during working hours (27 per cent)

However, the study reveals that many employers are failing to provide even the most cost-effective benefits.  Nearly two fifths (38 per cent) of workers don’t receive any benefits at all and only two per cent of women claim to have received support through schemes such as tax free childcare vouchers in the last year.

Despite the well-documented pension crisis, just a third (34 per cent) of working Brits claim to have received company contributions towards a  pension in the past year and almost a fifth of 18-24 year olds (19 per cent) admit they are eligible for a contribution towards a pension, but have not taken it up.

Helen Smith, Head of Engage Mutual Health said:

“Our study highlighted the significant value that working Brits are placing on employee benefits.  Some would even turn down a job if they were not offered any benefits and six per cent of employees would prefer to have more benefits than an increase in salary.

“With household budgets under pressure, it’s not surprising that so-called luxuries are falling out of favour. Instead, there appears to be an appetite for benefits that provide more immediate help, such as cash towards everyday healthcare costs, help towards travel and parking and even food.  But it seems that many companies are not meeting this demand.

“The good news is, for employers, this need not necessarily impact the bottom line significantly and offering sought-after benefits can be crucial in retaining and attracting staff and in some cases manage absenteeism.  Introducing some basic perks that provide instant value for employees is a good way to boost morale without a substantial investment.”
Engage Mutual’s Employee Benefits Study also found that:

  • 42 per cent of UK employees would like to receive additional benefits
  • just two per cent of working women received money towards childcare costs in the past year

  • almost a fifth of working over 45s (19 per cent) would value sabbatical leave from their job

  • working women are less likely to receive employee benefits than men (40 per cent of female employees do not receive any benefits compared to 36 per cent of men)

  • one in ten working women (10 per cent) fail to take advantage of company-contributed pension schemes

  • 12 per cent of men would turn down a job if they were not offered benefits

Engage Mutual provides employers with an affordable and simple healthcare cash plan, One Fund which employees can tailor and use for their own needs.  The plan is unique in the market as it provides a single pot of money for employees which can be used towards a range of everyday healthcare costs including dental and optical cover.

From just £10 per month, per employee, companies can provide their workforce with an annual pot of money, from £720, which can contribute towards a series of benefits or pay towards one single benefit, depending on the needs of the individual.