More than nine in 10 leaders believe they need to use benefits better to retain staff

The majority (94%) of employers believe that their organisation needs to better use benefits as a strategic lever to improve employee retention, according to research by Capita Employee Benefits.

The digital opportunity: Re-imagining the employee experience in benefits, a report which surveyed 200 HR and benefits professionals, 500 business leaders, including board directors, senior directors and heads of departments, and 2,031 employees in the UK, also found that 92% of employers feel that digitalisation within benefits is crucial to retain staff and build loyalty. Furthermore, 93% of HR and benefits professionals believe that employee benefits should be deployed as a strategic lever to attract new talent.

Gareth Pickles (pictured), managing director at Capita Employee Benefits, said: “Digital has the potential to deliver a faster, more seamless and personalised experience in benefits, which gives employees a greater sense of control and choice and the opportunity to take a more proactive approach.”

More than eight in 10 (85%) employers predict that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will lead to improved employee engagement, while 78% who feel that the internet of things (IOT) and wearable technology will have a positive impact; 70%, on the other hand, think that virtual reality will drive up engagement.

Despite this clear interest around benefits and technology, only 29% of employers stated that they are very satisfied with their levels of engagement around technology-based benefits, and 16% are very satisfied with their overall digital progress.

Half (51%) of organisations are currently tracking employee engagement with benefits, while 45% of leaders admit to taking an ad hoc approach when it comes factoring the user journey into their benefits strategy.

Pickles added: “Organisations need to take a strategic approach to digital adoption, rather than pursuing siloed, one-off implementations which invariably lead to failure and frustration. Digital should never be an end in itself, it is simply a means to enhance the employee experience.

“Benefits leaders need to ensure they have the skills and partners in place to get things right first time, and ensure new technology integrates with, and supports, the organisation’s overall digital transformation vision.”

The majority (97%) of employers are facing or expecting to face challenges in digitalising benefits. Almost two-fifths (38%) report that integration issues and a lack of inter-operability between systems is a challenge; a further 38% that believe finding suitable technology partners is difficult.

Three-quarters (75%) of employees acknowledge that technology is critical to ensuring they have the most personalised benefits package possible. Despite this, 52% still want human input and management when it comes to getting help with selecting their optimal benefits package.

“Instead of just approaching benefits as a tick box exercise, forward-thinking organisations are actively looking to maximise the value they get from their efforts and investments, in terms of improved employee engagement, wellbeing, retention and performance. [Organisations are] making benefits a major weapon in overcoming the skills shortages that have become such a barrier to growth in many industries,” Pickles concluded.