Firms prioritising employee experience and total reward packages to attract talent, says survey

15 Mar 2019 By Annie Makoff-Clark

But organisations need to be ‘more savvy’ to motivate workers in a tight labour market

Growing numbers of employers are prioritising employee experience as a way to improve engagement, recruitment and retention, a survey of businesses has found.

More than half of UK employers surveyed said they now actively defined and measured their employee value proposition (EVP) – a benchmark of the value employees receive from their role, encompassing financial and non-financial reward, culture, development opportunities and more. 

Research carried out by professional services firm Aon in its Benefits and Trends Survey 2019 showed a 35 per cent increase in the proportion of employers who currently had a clear EVP.

Of more than 200 employers surveyed by AON, 65 per cent said a defined EVP had a positive impact on employee engagement, while a significant number of employers said it has a positive impact on retention (63 per cent) and recruitment (70 per cent). 

The research also found that 72 per cent of international employers had a single benefits strategy or were working towards one, and 77 per cent of employers benchmarked benefit strategies against their peers. 

However, while almost a quarter of employers said they currently had an EVP in place, around a third admitted they did not communicate it effectively to their workforce.

Richard Morgan, principal at Aon, said employers had become more joined up in designing and managing benefits as part of a total remuneration package. “Flexible working, agile working, mental health, financial wellbeing and diversity have become very important parts of the EVP that employees are now looking for,” he told People Management.

Morgan added the shift in EVP priorities was partly due to the “natural evolutionary process” of creating the best offer for talent, as well as employers looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from competitors. 

Charles Cotton, senior reward and performance adviser at the CIPD, said employers needed to become “more savvy” with both financial and non-financial reward to attract, retain and motivate people in a tight labour market. “This encompasses not only assessing and evaluating the rewards on offer to staff, but also around how that offer is communicated, administered and delivered,” he said.

But, Cotton added, both the Aon research and previous research by the CIPD indicated there were opportunities for employers to improve how they communicate, deliver and assess employee value proposition in order to boost employee engagement and performance.

Matthew Pitt, head of research at global talent research firm Wilbury Stratton, said the new trend was being driven by the younger generation and their moral and social values were likely to become the new normal. “There has been a welcome shift in the balance of power between company and individual,” he said.

“Instead of being merely grateful to have a job, young professionals are increasingly making serious moral and social demands of their employer. The companies that recognise this will win the best talent.”

Richard Bradley, managing director for UK and Ireland at staffing firm Kelly, added: “We live in a skills-short market and dwindling responses to traditional job listings have left some employers feeling the pinch. But the truth is, the best candidates haven’t disappeared. They are still there, waiting for the right opportunity to come to them. No one’s looking but everyone’s available.”

Helen Jamieson, CEO of HR and training consultancy Jaluch, warned that employers who had failed to put in place good retention practices and EVPs were “still playing catch up”.

Employees, she added, wanted more than a job title and were looking for a culture which reflected their values and beliefs.

The report runs contrary to an Institute for Employment Studies (IES) report released in January that called out employers for masking the need for better baseline pay and improved career progression opportunities with what it described as the “same plain-vanilla, copycat benefits choices”.

The IES said over-complexity and poor communication were confusing employees and ignored the declines in real pay experienced by most of the UK workforce since 2008.

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