Changes and challenges Covid has brought to employee benefits

Research by Aon UK has revealed that there has been a steady increase in companies placing a higher importance on staff health and wellbeing

Undoubtedly 2020 brought a huge amount of change to businesses. A switch in working habits, furloughing staff, a greater requirement for wellbeing and balancing ever-evolving employee needs. 

In Aon’s 2021 UK Benefits and Trends survey, we’ve seen a steady increase in companies developing an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – 28 per cent now have a clear EVP, up from 23 per cent in 2020 (and with a further 43 per cent say they are planning to develop one). 

Invariably, some of this change will be reactive in light of the pandemic. However we anticipate that this trend will continue beyond 2021. There has been an increase in companies reporting that EVP has a positive impact on engagement, recruitment and retention. And with a strong, demonstrable return-on-investment, it is likely that businesses will further invest in the areas that drive positive results.   

There has also been an increased focus on enhancing communications, in part to support employee wellbeing; 86 per cent of businesses stated that communications are a higher priority since Covid. Combined with an increased emphasis on mental health and employee wellbeing, there is a likely correlation in employers wanting to ensure that wellbeing-related support is communicated effectively to workers who may be working more remotely than before. 

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of people to business success – and it’s an area where employee benefits budgets are reflecting this importance. Unsurprisingly, 37 per cent of businesses have said that they expect their health and wellbeing budgets to increase as a result of Covid. 

Research by Deloitte, Mental health and employers January 2020, found that the cost of poor mental health to UK employers is now £45 bn. In addition, their research makes a positive case for investment in mental health by employers, finding an average return of £5 for every £1 spent on such initiatives – it may be that the pandemic has catalysed the business case for wellbeing in many organisations.

For more insights on employee benefits trends in 2021 and beyond, download Aon’s Benefits and Trends survey