Only 13% of employees in the UK feel that their employer’s benefits provision closely aligns with their needs. This compares to 59% of employees in the U.S. According to new research from Benefex, the employee platform for rewards and benefits, UK workers are also less positive about their overall employee experience – only 23% rate their experience as excellent, far behind their counterparts in the U.S. (60%) and India (52%).

The research, which surveyed both employees and employers, highlights the challenges that organisations are facing in keeping pace with rapidly evolving employee drivers and priorities, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis impacts a growing number of workers. Employee experience strategies that were effective a year ago are no longer fit for purpose, unable to meet the needs of employees, candidates or businesses themselves.

A staggering 96% of HR and reward professionals report a significant shift in employee attitudes and behaviours towards benefits over the past 12 months. In particular, employees are seeking greater flexibility and personalisation in their benefits provision.

The importance that employees now attach to benefits has risen significantly. When asked about the factors that would have the greatest impact on their experience at work, 55% of workers pointed to relevant benefits that align with what they want and need. Additionally, 89% felt that employers could reduce staff attrition by demonstrating a better understanding of what people want from their experiences at work.

With rising costs of living across the world, employees are increasingly favouring benefits that help with their financial wellbeing and provide protection against the impact of illness and injury. Amongst the top 10 most valued are life insurance, health screenings, critical illness insurance, dental insurance, pension, private medical insurance, childcare vouchers and income protection. Overall, 65% of workers see benefits as very important for financial wellbeing – up from 53% in 2022.

Commenting on the research, Matt Macri-Waller, Benefex’s founder and CEO, said: “Employee needs and priorities are shifting at ever greater speeds. As a result, it has become critical to evolve within, or in spite of, this chaos. Those organisations that can build appealing, distinctive and engaging employee experiences will be the ones that gain a disproportionate share of talent, regardless of the labour market. It’s no longer enough to provide standard benefits packages; organisations must deliver relevant and tailored benefits that support wellbeing and offer real-life support.”

HR and reward professionals overwhelmingly believe that benefits can directly impact employee wellbeing (90%), can tackle issues related to “quiet quitting” (85%), and help align employee values with organisational purpose (84%). Encouragingly, the research also reveals that investment in all aspects of employee experience – including benefits and wellbeing – to increase over the next 12 months. These findings further emphasise the importance of benefits provision as a strategic tool to foster engagement, retention, productivity and overall employee satisfaction, particularly at a time when many organisations are looking to streamline costs.

To support their understanding of employees’ evolving needs and values, as well as the design and delivery of an effective benefits provision, most HR professionals 83% recognise a need for improved insight and analytics across benefits spend, take-up and ROI within their organisation. Currently, less than half of organisations are using data to assess the impact of benefits on employee wellbeing, to gather feedback from employees, or to measure engagement and take up of benefits.

The research highlighted the critical role of technology in shaping employee experience. 70% of employees claimed that the technology they use to do their job lags behind the tech they use in their personal lives. This figure has increased from 60% in 2022, indicating a growing impatience with outdated or unresponsive systems. Employees were equally dissatisfied with the technology used to access employee benefits, discounts and wellbeing resources, and to recognise and reward colleagues, with less than a quarter rating it as excellent.

Matt Macri-Waller, concluded: “The research emphasises the need for organisations to keep in mind the changing needs and expectations of their employees. Using data-driven insights, businesses can navigate the evolving landscape and invest in the types of online employee experiences that support a thriving workforce.”

The full research findings are available in two new white papers, “The Evolution Report, Part 1: The employer edit: How reward and benefits are evolving to become the foundation of the employee experience,” and “The Evolution Report, Part 2: The employee edit: “What the evolving needs of people at work mean for the reward and benefits function,” which are available for download here: