Employee benefits ‘wasted’ if not tailored to gender and age

20 Apr 2015 By Grace Lewis

Money-saving initiatives most sought after reward, finds PwC

Employers could be wasting thousands of pounds on benefits that are not valued by every employee, PwC has warned.

A study of 2,423 employees across the UK revealed a wide variation in the preferred workplace benefits by men and women, and older and younger workers.

Medical insurance was valued highly by 32 per cent of women, whereas just 24 per cent of men felt the same.

Company car schemes were more popular among men (29 per cent) compared to 21 per cent of women. And this percentage increased to 32 per cent among younger workers, compared to 27 per cent of those aged 40 and older.

Employees starting out in their career were reported to be more willing to opt for workplace training, with a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds choosing a four-day training programme over monetary rewards.

Respondents overall were most likely to prefer employee benefits that cut the cost of living, with 44 per cent of respondents opting for discount shopping vouchers, 36 per cent choosing healthcare and 37 per cent preferring access to better mortgage rates.

Extra holiday also scored highly with respondents, with 35 per cent citing it in their top three most preferred workplace benefits.

PwC said employers should be tailoring what they offer to different groups to make their benefit packages as cost-efficient and value for money as possible.

John Harding, pay, performance and risk partner at PwC, said: “Our research highlights that reward is by no means a one size fits all. Despite record low inflation, many people are still feeling the squeeze and value benefits that will save them money.

“Employers need to understand their people and their diversity to design a reward programme that takes account of individual preference. Effectively communicating and targeting benefits to different segments of the workforce could bring significant cost savings and stop the employer wasting valuable cash on benefits that are simply not valued by everyone.”

According to the results, women were nearly twice as likely as men to ask for childcare benefits to be introduced. Whereas both pensions and workplace share schemes were more popular with men than women.

As well as showing a preference for in-work learning over monetary reward, employees starting out in their career were also more likely to take risks with their pay. When asked to swap £1,000 of their salary for a performance related bonus of £5,000, more than a third (36 per cent) of respondents under the age of 20 agreed, compared to 18 per cent of 40 to 59 year olds.

The research supports the fact that people want different things from a job at different stages of their lives. Employers should recognise this when designing benefit and reward programmes, in an effort to retain diverse talent, PwC said.

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