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04 Jan 2023

Why financial protection tops the list of benefits priorities for 2023

How the cost-of-living crisis is changing employee expectations of employers

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Employees faced significant stress in 2022 – rising inflation, a global energy crisis, international instability and long healthcare waiting lists are just some of the circumstances affecting employee health and wealth. If financial wellbeing was under strain for employees a few years ago, it most certainly was in 2022. In the UK alone:

  • inflation has hit a 40-year high
  • energy bills in the UK are rising 14x faster than wages
  • one in three employees are struggling to stay on top of their outgoings.

Financial, emotional, and physical wellbeing are closely interlinked and there’s no doubt that the financial squeeze employees are facing is hitting all facets of their wellbeing.

Six months ago, Benefex produced a Cost of living crisis special report, which included a breakdown of how the benefits toolkit can help employees offset some rising costs. This trend towards supporting employees’ financial wellbeing through benefits and educational content continued through the second half of 2022. Here’s what Benefex’s report found:

Employers’ increasingly paternalistic role

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, employees’ expectations of employers have increased significantly. In 2022, a survey by Benefex of 4,027 employees showed that expectations have risen across every element of the employee experience, from benefits and reward through to technology and beyond.

A whopping 77% of those surveyed said their overall expectations had increased as they demand support both inside and outside the workplace, while 48% of those surveyed said their expectations around how their employer supports their wellbeing has increased. As employees continue to turn to their organisations in turbulent times, organisations are getting more involved in areas previously considered out of scope.

The benefits most important to employees

Financial protection to cover illness was right at the top of the list of priorities, with 92% of employees saying it was important that their employer provided this. Support for mental health and emotional wellbeing, as well as financial wellbeing, were also high on their list of expectations.

As employers look to provide more support to help their employees navigate the financial crisis, it’s important to communicate the value of benefits that will help create a financial buffer, as well as those that provide immediate cost savings on everyday items.

Unsurprisingly, insured benefits such as income protection and personal accident cover have continued to see increased take up, protecting employees and their families against key risks. Income protection could be one of the most important insurance products employees will ever own.

Take an holistic approach

Many organisations are seeing that it’s time to elevate the benefits platform to show the value of everything they do for employees. Acting as a central hub to promote wellbeing and create a strong culture, many organisations share educational content to support their employees, provide them with information and highlight the value of their benefits.

Many schemes offer ‘anytime benefits’, which means there’s ongoing engagement, and employees can adjust their benefits selection based on their financial circumstances.

Benefex’s recent report, Employee benefits trends: Data insights for your 2023 employee benefits strategy, explores five key benefits trends, including how employers are supporting their employees through the financial crisis.

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