Over a third (36 per cent) of large businesses (with 250+ employees) do not measure any staff appreciation of employee benefits and similarly, over half (54 per cent) of all SMEs (i.e. those with less than 250 employees) and up to 68 per cent of micro business (with less than ten employees), do not measure staff appreciation of benefits, showing that not enough businesses of all sizes are likely to have a real grasp about whether or not their employees value their benefits.
It makes sense for employers to assess the value that employees place on their benefits. Indeed, the very process of taking the time to seek the opinion of employees demonstrates a business cares and can help increase the perceived value.
Popular methods of feedback on employee benefits
Amongst those who do measure staff appreciation, the preferred method of garnering feedback is via a formal staff survey (34 per cent of all businesses – which rises to 41 per cent for large businesses).
Other methods (in order of popularity) include:
- Informal feedback: 31%
- Suggestion/feedback box: 30%
- How much a benefit is utilised: 27%
- Employee benefit forums and focus groups: 25%
- Clickthrough rates on specific topics on an intranet site: 24%
- Email box for feedback: 22%
- Benefits day (where providers are invited to employers’ premises to engage with staff): 20%
Whilst it is important to measure ‘utilisation’ rates, this isn’t always a good gauge of appreciation as employees can’t fully utilise all the benefits they don’t know about – a benefits package will only be successful if it is underpinned by a coherent communications strategy.
It’s also important to ask employees for feedback not only on their current benefits package but also on what other benefits might be valued and to ensure that benefits keep abreast of employees’ changing circumstances. For instance, benefits that offer financial protection for dependants can become more popular as employees move through life, so it’s important to monitor regularly which benefits might be most appropriate.
Despite many businesses not asking their staff for feedback on employee benefits, 94 per cent had an opinion on whether or not their organisations’ benefits package was appreciated. Most (80 per cent) thought their benefits were ‘very much’ or ‘somewhat’ appreciated. However, this needs to be treated with some caution as, unless employers ask, they may not really know, and may assume a higher level of appreciation than is the case.
The only way of really knowing what employees think about their benefits is to ask. This increases engagement and is likely to increase appreciation and utilisation.
Employers who really want to use their benefits package to foster a positive work culture in which staff feel cared for, engaged, motivated and productive, will make sure they obtain quantitative and qualitative feedback from employees at all levels, and particularly as new generations enter the workforce. This applies in all cases whether the benefits in question are employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection, critical illness, wider health and wellbeing benefits or something totally out of the ordinary. In fact, the benefits that are the most highly valued during difficult times, such as the current pandemic, can often be the more traditional ones – but unless employers ask they won’t find out.