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Benefits will have to change to meet future expectations

Richard Morgan
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New research from Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, says that 97 percent of employers agree that employees’ expectations of their experience in the workplace are changing. Contributor Richard Morgan, Strategic Consultant – Aon

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

Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey, now in its ninth year, is formed from the responses of over 200 employers of all sizes, from less than 100 employees to many thousands, who work across a broad range of sectors, with 75 percent of them working internationally. This year, a number of new questions were introduced, including changing workforce demographics, to support employer benefit strategies and provide industry analysis.

The survey shows that 97 percent of companies agree that employee expectations of the workplace seem to be changing rapidly. The main feature of those changing expectations is around flexible working, with 98 percent of respondents saying employees now expect more flexible working hours, while 89 percent said they expect agile/home working to be available. The rest of the top five changes were better awareness of mental health issues (79 percent), better approaches to diversity and inclusion (65 percent) and improved maternity/paternity/parental leave policies (63 percent). Access to financial education also featured for 54 percent of respondents.

Interestingly, 60 percent of employers say that their businesses are either already changing or are expected to change in the next five years, meaning they are now competing for talent within different market sectors. This can mean that the demographics of the organisation change – yet half of the respondents said that their current benefits do not meet the needs of all generations, while 89 percent believed they will need to change their benefits offering to meet the needs of future generations.

Richard Morgan, strategic consultant at Aon, said: “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 – just 29.5 percent said that they don’t expect any change within the next five years. There seems to be a particularly rapid pace of change at the moment, much of it driven by technology. This impacts an organisation’s workforce model and has consequences on an employee’s role fulfillment, 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.

“Yet 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. 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 25-34 year olds, especially in London, while the ‘sandwich generation’ is emerging with people having caring responsibilities for both their children and their parents.” Morgan summed up: “How employers respond to these changes will define how successfully they can implement their future workforce plans”.


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