What are the benefit trends of 2019 and how will they shape reward strategies

Employers’ benefits plans and strategies will be brought into sharp focus in the Willis Towers Watson’s latest research project – and REBA readers are being invited to offer their insights.  

Trends for 2019

Following its launch in 2017, Willis Towers Watson’s biennial Benefits Trends survey is back.  

The survey delves into employers’ health and wellness benefits offerings, benefits management and costs and value perception.  

The inaugural survey not only revealed current trends but predicted the future direction of benefits strategies and top priorities for the coming years.  

Wellbeing and benefits spend 
One prediction from the original survey was that 45 per cent of employers would include health and wellbeing in their company goals within three years.  

Continuous competition for talent and the impact of stress on employee absence helped drive this trend – and the 2019 survey will reveal if companies are on the road to achieving this goal.  

Back in 2017, cost was identified as a top concern for businesses, with half (50 per cent) of respondents citing rising benefit programme costs as a key challenge for the coming years.  

Despite the concerns around costs, 40 per cent of employers in the UK did not know how much they spent on benefits.  A discrepancy between employer and employee perception was also identified, with employers overestimating employee understanding of benefit packages – 69 per cent compared to 51 per cent of employees.  

This considered, it comes as no surprise that almost 70 per cent of employers said that they would revise strategies to manage costs and drive desired employee behaviours.  

Engagement and benchmarking 
Driving engagement with health and wellbeing programmes has also been moving up the business agenda. 

Three quarters (74 per cent) of employers said that they needed to increase employee engagement in health and wellbeing.  

An evident need for improved engagement was identified, with just 35 per cent of employees saying that their company promoted a healthy work environment, compared to 61 per cent of employers.  

When it came to designing benefits programmes, consistency and tailorability to specific needs were key drivers but competitor benchmarking was the most important factor.

Just six per cent of employers in the 2017 survey went above and beyond to actively differentiate their health and wellbeing programmes from their competitors.  

But attitudes were changing, with 76 per cent planning to make their health and wellbeing provision a key competitive advantage in the coming years.  

Tech is the future 
What lies in store in the 2019 findings is yet to be seen, but the use of technology in benefits programmes is likely to feature heavily.  

In the last survey, app and portal technology looked set to play an increasingly important role in helping organisations encourage healthier employee lifestyles and track results.  

Forty-one per cent of employees also hoped to create a digital engagement strategy for their benefits programmes.  

In the two short years since the first survey was conducted, technology has advanced at an alarming rate, and its effects can be felt in every corner of our lives, including reshaping the work environment.  

This trend will no doubt be reflected in the 2019 findings, with the number of employers leveraging technology to drive engagement and encourage healthier behaviours expected to be significantly higher.  

Get involved 
Decision makers and HR representatives are being invited to take part in the survey, which is now live.  

All survey respondents will receive key findings and infographics, as well as a bespoke benchmarking scorecard, showing how their responses compared to their competitors.  

The survey will end on May 31 2019.  To take part, click here.  

This article is sponsored by Willis Towers Watson. 


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