Data from a recent study reveals that the UK’s company benefit schemes are ignoring younger employees, despite a huge majority placing great value on benefits. Just 16% of UK employees under 25 (Gen Z) feel that their current benefits package is suitable for them. This figure increases to 24% for those aged 25-34.
The study was conducted by one of the UK’s leading wet wipe brands, Wet Ones, as part of the2021 Employee Benefits, Health and Wellbeing Survey. It asked employees at 133 workplaces across the UK how their health and wellbeing needs and habits have changed, and whether updated benefits packages from their employers would help to support their wellbeing.
The ‘wants’ of Gen Z employees, who feel least satisfied with their benefits packages, are found to be evolving with shifting societal priorities faster than other age groups.
- 30%of under-25s in the UK want travel vaccinations included in their benefits packages, helping them to embrace their pent-up wanderlust as overseas travel gradually becomes easier
- 25%would like additional ‘health days’ holiday packages to support mental health
- 21%want greater flexibility on working hours, hoping that pandemic-enforced changes would lead to a working hours revolution
Many employee benefits schemes remain unchanged after the global shift to home working and a more flexible hybrid system. This has led to many company perks being unused and failing to encourage employee health, wellbeing, and productivity.
Have companies adapted to fit changing lifestyles?
The study reveals that companies are lagging behind lifestyle trends, with four out of five (81%) employees (of all ages) stating that their benefits packages are out of sync with their lifestyle.
When asked how their employers could support their physical, mental and personal wellbeing, these were the results:
- 70% feel the need for more flexible working hours
- 61% want private healthcare and dental care, and financial support with staying healthy (such as glasses, physio sessions or ergonomic office equipment)
- 53% would like additional ‘health days’ for personal wellbeing
How can companies better align to employee lifestyles?
To effectively support employee wellbeing, it is essential that companies realise how their employees’ lifestyles have permanently shifted.
The way we exercise
Rather than ‘binge exercising’ at weekends, the UK workforce has enjoyed regular exercise throughout the working week since widespread working from home began. 84% say they are more physically active since moving the office to home.
- The UK has become a nation of walkers: nearly three in five (56%) employees now walk more during the working week, instead of exclusively at weekends
- Two in five (39%) feel their diet has improved, with people ditching takeaways and pre-packaged food in favour of healthy, home-cooked meals
- A quarter (25%) of UK employees are participating in more wellness activities, such as gardening and engaging with nature
Changing exercise routines should cause companies to consider more flexible funding of equipment, instead of just offering a standard gym membership. While an increased focus on healthy diets could point towards more of an appetite for fruit and vegetable box deliveries, rather than a monthly takeaway. Wellness activities should also be incorporated to ensure both physical and mental health support is covered.
Gurinder Sagoo, HR Director for North Europe and Oceania at Wet Ones, said: “We’re aware of the importance of ensuring people have the support and resources they need to lead both active and healthy lifestyles. The findings from this study show that an urgency to adapt employee wellbeing packages has emerged during the last year.
“Significantly, they also demonstrate how essential it is for benefits packages to cater for everyone in the workplace, by taking into account each individual’s age, lifestyle and personal circumstances. An inclusive benefits package contributes to the whole team feeling supported in pursuing a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is crucial that companies digest these findings and take action to improve how they nurture employee wellbeing.”
Kris Ambler, Workforce Lead at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), added:“Lockdown loneliness and digital fatigue are among the phrases that have entered our lexicon and many employees are contending with bereavement and grief, redundancy, restructuring and job insecurity. This means that employee benefit programmes will need to be more personalised; managers will have to be more intuitive when assessing the mental wellbeing of remote workers; and financial wellbeing support will need to play a larger role within the employee benefits and occupational health mix.
“Investing in employee benefit schemes makes good economic sense and demonstrates a genuine commitment to an employer’s duty of care to their staff. Support services, including counselling, can help to identify and address problems early. They can alleviate the psychological impact of negative work situations and keep employees working effectively and productively.”
Dawn Morris, HR Adviser at Cluer HR, offered: “The right workplace support can have a hugely positive impact on employee wellbeing and mental health and is fundamental to every employer’s reward and benefits programme. It will show understanding and appreciation of current and future employees, and help to build an engaged, supported and productive workforce. Having the right benefits package can also attract new talent to the business.”