Nearly all UK employers want to improve employees’ engagement with benefits, according to Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has released research identifying that 98% of UK employers say it’s important to improve employees’ understanding and engagement with their benefits or health and financial wellbeing programmes.

According to Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey, despite respondents realising the importance of engagement, just 29% have a strategy in place, likely because barriers are commonplace. Budget was the most cited issue behind developing an engaging benefits and wellbeing communication programme (49%). Other obstacles included lack of resources (36%) and uncertainty about how to create engaging communications (15%). Other challenges cited by 25% of respondents ranged from the volume of communications employers need to handle to lack of support from management. Communication budgets remain on par with last year, with 65% spending between less than £5,000 while 4% of respondents indicated spending over £50,000.

The survey, however, identified that more employers may be taking action, as 59% stated they would be willing to increase budgets or are thinking about it to improve engagement, which is up from 42% in 2020. There is also strong support for technology and apps in aiding future engagement, as 82% of firms view these positively and less than 1% see the tools as a negative.

Seventy percent of employers said the key focus in wanting to increase their employees’ understanding of Total Reward and the value of benefits was engagement, while 42% said it was awareness and 38% reported it was important for the employee experience.

Sarah Robson, senior strategic consultant, Health Solutions, Aon, said:

“It has been encouraging to see many organisations increasing communication with their employees to show support during the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been an awareness that connection is more important than ever when so many are under strain or working remotely, as well as the importance of highlighting the wellbeing and employee benefits that are available to support colleagues. The survey showed that 86% of respondents said communications with employees was a higher priority since the pandemic began and 66% of respondents said regular communication is a key focus of benefits engagement in the next 12 months, too.”

The survey also highlighted that 27% of employers do not conduct any research or ‘listen’ to employee needs to understand potential areas for improvement or implement more effective communication strategies.

Sarah Robson explained:

“We recommend understanding employee thoughts and feelings in order to develop a purposeful communication strategy that improves engagement and offers the best employee experience. Although firms use a variety of research tools such as questionnaires, pulse surveys and focus groups, new methods can complement traditional research to help employers understand peoples’ emotions. For example, neuroscience surveys bypass unconscious bias by measuring automatic reactions so employers can understand true opinions of their teams. Additionally, new technology channels also help improve the employee experience so they better understand the value of their benefits.

“With the future of work becoming ever more digital and the focus on wellbeing increasing for more employers, additional spend and resources is not surprising. It remains essential, however, that employers put measures in place that allow them to accurately identify obstacles and help them understand exactly what budgets and resources are needed to reach targets.”

Find out more about the Aon UK Benefits and Trend Survey 2021 and download the full report.

Learn more about how Aon is helping clients build a resilient workforce, one of four core priorities for organisations as they have shifted in response to the pandemic, in its paper, “Helping Clients Navigate an Increasingly Complex World“.