Most companies think they are failing to provide the seamless, connected benefits experience their employees expect and that is fit for purpose in the current world of work, according to research by Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB). The report, Reinventing reward for the ‘new normal’: managing risks and digitising benefits, found that less than a third (31%) of UK employers believe they provide a ‘great’ user experience with their HR tech, with over half (55%) saying they provide just an ‘average’ experience. Similarly, just one in five employees (21.5%) have a ‘great experience’ with employer-provided software. Less than half of employees (47%) believe the employee software experience is the same when working virtually as in the office, raising doubts about how well technology and platforms support those working remotely.

Tony Wood, Partner and UK & Ireland Regional Leader, MMB said: “With widespread remote working increasing data security risk and impacting employee wellbeing, employers need to consider whether their existing benefit programmes and digital infrastructure are fit for purpose. As more employees continue to work remotely in light of recent government restrictions, supporting their wellness through engaging consumer grade technology is crucial. Employers now have the perfect opportunity to provide digital wellbeing programmes that that are truly relevant to their workforce and that their employees will engage with.”

With more and more employees working remotely, the risk of data security being compromised is increasing. MMB’s survey shows that more than half (52%) of employers believe their current procedures and processes with HR technology expose them to undue cyber risk. Interestingly, less than a third (28%) of employees ‘strongly agree’ that they trust their employer with their personal data and only 15% ‘strongly agree’ that they trust benefit suppliers with their personal data. MMB’s research shows that prior to the pandemic, the top two HR objectives for employers were ‘enhancing employee engagement’ and ‘promoting employee health and wellbeing’, with more than two-thirds of organisations (70% and 67.5% respectively) citing these as ‘high priorities’. Surprisingly, only (43%) of employees ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that the benefits their employer provides makes them feel valued – a clear disconnect between employee and employer.

David Dodd, Partner at MMB said: “All this suggests clear blind spots for UK benefit programmes. To get the best value and impact from a company benefits programme businesses should start by reviewing what is currently in place. Firms should also ensure benefits platforms deliver value, have the right impact on their people, and are engaging. By tweaking and refocusing existing employee value propositions, reviewing current reward offerings and simply listening to employees, even the most subtle changes can make a difference.”

Mr Dodd concluded: “Following the pandemic, employers will need to take a new approach to managing the workforce and their wellbeing. However, companies should not feel daunted. A little goes a long way and those that digitise, invest in HR technology and put the wellbeing at the heart of their culture will reap the rewards.”


By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.