Employers will keep investing in benefits despite economic uncertainty, finds CIPD poll

Almost all employers (97 per cent) are planning to maintain or increase their spend on benefits over the next two years, CIPD research published today has revealed, despite the ongoing economic and political uncertainty.

According to the CIPD reward management survey, which polled 536 HR practitioners, eight in 10 (81 per cent) intend to spend the same amount on employee benefits over the next two years as they currently do, while 16 per cent plan to increase their investment.

The research found employers were most likely to maintain or increase investment in professional development benefits such as peer mentoring schemes, secondments and business apprenticeships (43 per cent).

Health and wellbeing ranked second (29 per cent), with benefits including occupational sick pay and flu jabs, while a quarter said they would prioritise financial benefits such as pension schemes and debt advice.

Overall, pension schemes were the most common benefit offered to employees in 2018, followed by paid leave for bereavement. This was followed by training and career development opportunities, which were offered by 68 per cent of organisations.

Charles Cotton, CIPD reward and performance adviser, said it was promising to see employers were committed to investing in their employees despite the macroeconomic environment.

“It’s encouraging to see the benefits that have been earmarked for further spend in the near future relate to people development and wellbeing. Spending in these areas can help improve employee performance, and ultimately corporate performance,” he said.

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market analyst for the CIPD, added it was “vital that businesses understand the workforce challenges they face, make the relevant investment in skills and adopt the right people management practices to boost productivity in their organisation”.

Today’s report also revealed that benefits were often poorly communicated. It found 16 per cent of employers did not always communicate what benefits were on offer, and one in five (21 per cent) said their benefits were not easily accessible.

Dipa Mistry Kandola, head of flexible benefits services at LCP, said organisations could be wasting significant investment if employees did not know about the range of benefits on offer.

She added: “They will only be able to get true engagement from their people if they offer tailored benefits facilitated through a comprehensive, multi-channel communication strategy that encourages feedback. The way benefits are communicated, delivered and measured is just as important as having the right benefits in place.”

Research published earlier this year found workers were less likely to quit if they were given more training opportunities, and that benefits played an important role in helping organisations succeed.

Earlier this month, the CIPD’s latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook found more than two in five UK employers (44 per cent) reported it had become “more difficult” to fill vacancies in their organisation over the past 12 months, and 34 per cent said retention pressures had risen over the same period.