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What benefits do employees really want?


Surprise surprise, the workplace revolution is well underway…Ok, so maybe that doesn’t come as new information, but flexible working aside, how are your benefits, recognition and rewards programmes stacking up against the competition? 

I’ve been sharing my thoughts from our latest research – carried out across 502 HR professionals and 505 C-suite executives, along with 2,003 employees – with Business Age magazine this week and reveal how a seismic gap is tearing apart the very fabric of employee benefits, with the blame game raging firmly between the corner office and HR.

We found a staggering 65% of employees are yearning for improvement in rewards programmes, and nearly half feel their leaders are disengaged from their actual needs. Moreover, 20% of C-suite leaders express concern over HR’s commitment to these schemes, with a similar percentage highlighting a lack of necessary skills within HR teams. And yet, HR points the finger back at a lack of C-suite support. There’s no doubt that there’s a disconnect between HR and leadership with a need for a strategic overhaul of how benefits are conceived, communicated, and delivered.

A critical eye across the findings reveals a lack of synchronisation not only between departments but also within the very fabric of organisational strategy. There’s a pervasive ambiguity regarding who exactly holds the reins of rewards and recognition. HR claims 50% responsibility, closely trailed by line managers and leadership teams. This diffused sense of accountability lays bare a landscape ripe for confusion and missed opportunities.

In an era marked by unprecedented workplace transformation, it’s clear that business leaders need to move fast to keep up with the changing needs, wants and desires of a diverse workforce. But as our research findings show, members of today’s C-suite don’t just need to pivot, but instead work with HR to take action to integrate the multifaceted dimensions of employee satisfaction.

In the post pandemic aftermath, employees across the board are seeking greater recognition – something that resonates with their personal and professional lives. As such, we’re calling for better harmonisation between HR and business leaders so that, together, they can create and deliver benefit programmes that meet the aspirations of today’s employees.

As it stands, 47% of employees feel undervalued. The firm belief is that business leaders are out of touch with their reward preferences – hardly a surprise given over half (54%) of employees say they’re rarely, if ever, consulted about benefits schemes that directly impact their work-life satisfaction and only 40% are effectively using the benefits on offer too.


So what appeals to today’s employees?

Interestingly, 63% of employees told us that they were attracted to their current job based on the company’s reward, recognition, and benefits programmes. However, over two fifths (44%) of employees felt that they don’t get rewarded by their organisation at all for their accomplishments – that could be something as simple as an acknowledgement of their accomplishments by the CEO to managerial recognition – both playing huge roles in boosting morale.

Over complicated reward, recognition and benefit schemes also lead to a lack of understanding about what’s available to employees and under utilisation.


The top priorities for recognition and reward (employee view) were mostly of a personal nature – occasions such as work anniversaries, birthdays, and significant life events such as births or adoptions of a child.

There’s also a growing desire for tailored benefits – a staggering 90% express a preference for immediate rewards that offer real-life benefits, such as extra days off or flexible working hours. Support for student loan repayment assistance and mental health benefits are also prioritised alongside more traditional offerings.

Non-monetary recognition is also important for employees – such as wellbeing, career development opportunities, and peer-to-peer recognition initiatives.

Call to action

Whatever your preference and priority, it’s clear that it’s time for a candid examination of what you offer employees.

Business leaders need to step out of the shadows of transactional management and invest in the living, breathing entity that is your workforce. Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) isn’t just a budget line – it’s the lifeline that ties your employees to the organisational vision and values. It’s the strategic instrument that transforms your workforce into ambassadors of your brand, motivated not just by salary but by a sense of belonging and recognition.

The time for introspection and incremental change has passed. You need to take bold steps and make decisive investments across a shared vision that elevates the employee experience to the forefront of corporate strategy. The roadmap is clear: foster transparency, nurture skills, and ensure your reward schemes are as dynamic and varied as the individuals they aim to empower.

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