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Benefits must get flexi

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Only 12 percent of employees have a benefits package they have helped to build themselves, and just three percent have the flexibility to exchange their existing benefits. However 41 percent would like the opportunity to customise their own benefits package reveals new research from Canada Life Group Insurance.

The importance of flexibility and a package which evolves over time is demonstrated by the way in which different age groups prioritise the benefits of most value to them.  Just a fifth (20 percent) of 16-24 year olds prefer a benefits package designed to look after them in the long-term whereas this is considered far more important amongst over-55s (45 percent). 

Those in younger age groups – 16-24 year olds – tend to favour ‘immediate benefits’, such as assistance with travel costs, whereas more mature employees (over-55s) look towards long-term benefits that will help them though retirement. For example, 38 percent of 16 – 24 year olds would choose a subsidised gym membership as part of their ideal benefits package compared with just nine percent of over-55s.  In contrast, 78 percent of 45-54 year olds would select a pension as part of their benefits package, falling to 62 percent amongst the 16-24 year olds.

Women in particular value flexibility in their employee benefits package, this being highlighted by 45 percent compared to 36 percent of men (across all age ranges).  Yet they are less likely to receive any benefits at all from their employer (56 percent of women compared with 46 percent of men have no employer sponsored provision). Almost half (49 percent) of 16-24 year olds would like a tailored benefits package, whereas this drops to 30 percent of over-55s, perhaps suggesting that as people approach retirement they are happy to settle for a fixed benefits package and do not have as many individual requirements that need to be met. 

Paul Avis, Sales and Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance comments: “With people having busier lives than ever before, and with greater demands upon their finances and time, it is not surprising that a large number would like the chance to pick and choose which benefits best suit their individual needs. Indeed, the requirements of someone embarking upon their working life, compared with someone who may be nearing the end of theirs and looking towards retirement, are bound to be different. “One of our constant challenges as a group risk provider is to educate advisers and employers about the flexibility within our products as we fully understand that the one size fits all approach is outdated. Hence, with both budget and scheme design in mind, we believe that we can appeal to employees at whatever stage they are at within their personal lifecycle.”

“By allowing employees to have a say in the benefits that make up their overall package employers have the chance to increase morale and levels of staff retention.  In addition, the value of an employer’s expenditure upon employee benefits is likely to be higher if employees receive exactly the benefits they require, rather than those they are unlikely to use.  It also allows them to effectively outsource these decisions to their employees, thus ensuring that they can be provided with what they want.”

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