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In the 21st century, most businesses will have undergone a branding exercise to help them win or retain clients and customers.

Branding is equally important when it comes to talent attraction and retention. With employment levels at an all-time high,[1] companies across industries are increasingly looking to attract a smaller pool of talent and the job market has become very competitive as a result. Therefore, building a strong employer brand, i.e. what an employer is known and valued for by their employees, is crucial to aid employee attraction and retention.

Employer brands are increasingly informed by the value a business offers an employee beyond their day-to-day job and pay package. As part of this, employee benefits are becoming a crucial aspect for an employer’s brand.

The importance of support services
One of the most important parts of the employee benefits value proposition for employers are the support services they are able to offer. Our recent research found that over a third of employees said bigger holiday allowances and private medical insurance would make them feel more positive about their employer, while over a quarter said the same for critical illness cover and life assurance.[2]

Our research also revealed that the most valued employee benefit is flexible working, which has a positive impact on employee wellbeing.[3] Already, our research shows a third of employees working in an open plan office feel anxious or stressed because of work, but only 17% of those who work from home said the same.[4]

While every employee has the right to request flexible working options, employers who are able to implement flexible working policies should seriously consider doing so. It will strengthen the perception that they are cultivating a modern, accommodating workplace that caters to the needs of individual employees, rather than treating them as cogs in a machine.

Beyond the more standard benefit products, employers can further support employee wellbeing by offering a broader range of support services. Previously, these were seen as “bolt-ons” to Group Insurance policies, but they can prove to be invaluable to employees experiencing personal struggles. A good example of this are online and telephone support services that offer employees support with managing minor mental health issues like stress and anxiety, while legal support can be made available for employees who require advice on anything from partnership rights to neighbourhood disputes.

Most Group Risk providers will offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that covers the above, as well as probate helplines, bereavement helplines, personal nurse advisers or medical second opinion services. The value these services provide extends beyond the employees themselves to cover their immediate family members, which provides them with the added peace of mind that their loved ones are cared for by their employer too.

The benefits of employee benefits packages
A good employee benefits package should offer a range of benefits that suit employees at different stages of life. Employers might offer childcare vouchers or a subsidised gym membership, but these will only be of value to certain employees. Therefore, it is important that employers communicate the full breadth of services and benefits they offer clearly and regularly to their employees, which in turn will boost their brand internally.

Still, a fifth of employees can only remember receiving information about the benefits available to them, and a tenth say they have no idea which employee benefits, if any, are available to them.2 An understanding of the benefits package on offer, how it works and its value outside of the workplace can be a huge motivator for employees, too. Showing employees a consistently high level of appreciation can have a positive impact on an employer’s brand and bring numerous benefits with it.

Ultimately, enhancing your employer brand with a suite of employee benefits conveys a simple message: we are looking after you. Employees who feel appreciated, are healthy and happy to come to work every day are more likely to be engaged with their day jobs and the company as a whole. 

As a result, these employees will be more productive. In addition, studies show that employees who are engaged with their workplace, its values and who are onboard with the mission will stay with a company for longer.[5]

[1] UK Labour market statistics, 13 August 2019
[2] Canada Life Group wellbeing Products research, December 2018
[3] Canada Life Group Ageing Workforce research, May 2019
[4] Canada Life Group Productivity research, March 2018
[5] Global Human Capital Trends Report 2016, Deloitte

Paul Avis, Marketing Director, Canada Life Group Insurance

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