As the world continues to evolve, there’s a diverging approach emerging as to how companies navigate some of the changes catalysed by the pandemic. There’s undoubtedly a huge amount of uncertainty, as companies try to understand employee sentiment around hybrid working, provide appropriate mental health support, and balance different generational needs.

Here are our predictions for what’s in store over the next twelve months or so as companies balance changing expectations and a heightened focus on cost.

A need for agility

The events of the past couple of years have highlighted an underlying need for taking an agile approach. The sudden shock of the cost-of-living crisis is a prime example; 32% of employees would like more support with their current finances, but only 13% of businesses are providing support with everyday finances[1].

The annual renewal cycle of insured benefits often filters across the wider benefits strategy, but this might not be often enough for companies to manoeuvre quickly and react to emerging risks. This can leave a benefits programme vulnerable to gaps between provision and employee needs, which can have a consequential impact on talent retention, recruitment, and employee wellbeing.

A desire for choice and flexibility

An increasingly diverse workforce is highly beneficial, but it does mean that employee benefit programmes need to be equally diverse and inclusive.

On a tight budget, this can be difficult for HR leaders to achieve. Providing employees with greater flexibility around their benefits options might be an easy solution; offering voluntary benefits or even a flex pot allows employees to select the benefits which will be most impactful to their life.

66% of employees would like more flexibility over the benefits they have

A demonstration of return-on investment

With a 2024 recession looming, it’s likely that discretionary spend for many industries will be lower than hoped. This heightened focus on cost means that demonstrating an ROI on benefits spend is more important than ever. Companies need to ensure they are maximising use of value-added services,  increasing benefits uptake,  taking a proactive, preventative approach to future health risks, and reaffirming benefit value to their employee population via total rewards.

A focus on work/life balance

Our research shows that 28% of employees are struggling to manage their work/life balance – with younger generations more likely to be struggling to balance their work and personal commitments.

If possible, implementing flexible working can go a long way in providing practical support to employees struggling with logistical issues. Employers should also look at ensuring employees have access to mental health support to help foster mental wellbeing and prevent burnout. Our Mind the Gap research also showed a significant gap in mental health provision (54% of employees are not receiving mental health support from their employer); there is still a huge opportunity for employers to provide appropriate support.

[1] Source: PIB Employee Benefits 2023 Mind the Gap Survey

Get more insights on employee benefits from our 2023 Mind the Gap Survey