Rising Demand for Employee Benefits: What Your Staff Really Want in 2021


Data from Drewberry’s 2021 Employee Benefits Survey, which questioned 2,000 workers at UK SMEs, delved into the benefits your workers most want to see.

At the top of the list was flexible hours — 50.8% of workers wanted their employer to introduce this. Given this is free to introduce, where it’s possible it would be an easy win.

Other popular benefits workers wanted employers to offer include:

Meanwhile, in terms of broad types of benefits workers wanted to see, top categories were those which:

  • Help employees manage their health and wellbeing (51.1%)
  • Train / educate workers in areas relevant to their career aspirations (46.4%)
  • Offer gifts and rewards for use outside of work, such as events tickets or discounts (40.4%).

Introducing the Benefits Employees Want the Most…

We’ve listed many of the benefits that help workers manage their health and wellbeing above. Perhaps the most obvious is Company Health Insurance. However, thanks to employee assistance programs, many other insurance policies come with benefits that can also help in this area.

Such benefits include:

  • Mental health resources / support
  • Absence management programs
  • Remote GP services
  • Telephone helplines which can help tackle an array of issues your workers might face
  • Access to high street discounts and other rewards, assisting with rolling out a category of benefits 40.4% of workers wanted to see.

Workers Seek Flexibility and Assistance With Home Working

As mentioned, more than half of workers wanted their employer to introduce flexible working. 1 in 3 wanted their company to offer home working. To help facilitate this, 18.7% of workers wanted some form of allowance for working from home, while a further 13% want money towards home office equipment.

Given 24.7% of workers said that inferior office equipment was one of the main challenges of home working, addressing this could aid productivity among a home-based workforce.

How Has Staff Demand for Benefits Changed Over Time?

Since the last edition of our Employee Benefits Survey, demand for certain benefits has changed.

There’s been a rise in demand for all main insurance benefits. For example, demand has increased for:

  • Group Income Protection Insurance, seeing a percentage rate increase of 17.2%.
  • Death in Service Cover, seeing a percentage rate increase of 13.8%.
  • Private Medical Insurance, seeing a percentage rate increase of 12.8%.
  • Group Critical Illness Cover, seeing a percentage rate increase of 38.9%.

Although demand for Critical Illness Insurance has increased more than other insurances, it’s not actually the best option to protect workers from the pandemic. Critical Illness Insurance covers few symptoms of COVID-19.

In many ways, workers would be better off with Income Protection to pay out a continuation of income should they develop coronavirus. Also, if an employee were very sadly to pass away from COVID-19, Group Life Insurance would pay out a benefit to their loved ones to help them financially during such a difficult time.

Demand for Remote GP Services Sees Biggest Rise

However, the benefit that’s seen the biggest increase in demand is virtual GP services. Just 3.7% of workers wanted their employer to offer this in our last survey. This rose by 9.8 percentage points to 12.3% of workers in 2021, or a massive percentage rate increase of 264.2%.

Lockdowns and difficulty accessing GP appointments due to the pandemic are likely two big reasons behind this shift.

While it’s hard to arrange virtual GP appointments as a standalone benefit, insurers often package such services as additional benefits with group protection policies. For example, AIG’s Group Life Insurance offers access to Smart Health, which includes an online GP. Check out our director’s experience using this service here.

Considering New Employee Benefits? Get Expert Advice…

Clearly, demand for most employee benefits is on the rise. Yet despite this, and despite 22.4% of workers saying employee benefits attract them when seeking a new job, there’s only been a marginal increase in employers offering some of the most popular benefits.

While 47.4% of companies had introduced some form of benefit since the pandemic, uptake has been lower for some of the most in-demand options. For example, just 8% of employers have introduced Private Health Insurance since the start of the pandemic, while only 6.9% had introduced Income Protection.

However, addressing this can be a bit of a minefield. You’ll need to do a lot of research into your options and gather data about your workforce — and that’s just the start of the heavy lifting involved.

Fortunately, the team at Drewberry helps companies of all sizes arrange benefits for their employees every day. We search the entire UK market on your behalf so you can get back to doing what you’re best at: Delivering your own proposition.

For fee-free independent advice arranging employee benefits give us a call on 02084327333 or email help@drewberry.co.uk.

Nadeem Farid Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Our experts are here to do all the heavy lifting involved with setting up and maintaining a competitive employee benefits package for your business.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

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