The roaring twenties were characterised by economic prosperity and there was an air of modernity and a break with tradition. Will the next decade of twenties see this repeated but on an even bigger scale and become the soaring twenties? In a new post Brexit world and with technology moving on at a considerable pace what will 2020 and beyond look like in the employee benefits world? We take a look back at the last 10 years and make some predictions for the next decade.
We’ve seen quite a few changes …
The early part of the last decade was taken up by a major shake up in the pensions world with the introduction of auto-enrolment and a mad scramble to get technology in place to make sure it was handled smoothly. It was finally introduced in October 2012, taking up to 10 million people into pension saving, many for the first time ever, with all employers being part of it.
In 2017 the rules were changed for salary sacrifice meaning that employers were left with just a few benefits they could use to help employees take advantage of tax breaks. These included pensions, childcare vouchers, cycle to work schemes, holiday trading and ultra-low emission company cars.
Childcare vouchers were controversially scrapped in 2018 for new joiners and replaced with the governments Tax-Free Childcare scheme which offers up to £2,000 per child towards childcare costs. According to the moneysavingexperrt.com only about a quarter of the 1.3m families eligible have signed up so far.
We also saw the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) in the latter part of the 00s, which gave rise to lots of head scratching around complex data requirements about how employee information was to be managed in the new regime. Most got there unscathed!
In between all of this, financial wellbeing in general took centre stage with more employees being offered workplace loans and workplace ISAs to help them manage their money better.
One of the more recent important changes in the last decade has been the change in attitude towards mental health in the workplace. The amount of support that employers are willing to give employees to help them prepare, manage or overcome stressful periods in their life has improved, which is a great step forward. There is now a much more open attitude to this subject with even senior leaders in the UK happy to share their own struggles with mental health.
So, what does the next decade hold?
Wellbeing will inevitably continue to top the agenda, whether that’s physical, mental or financial but with more of an emphasis on emotional wellbeing. Employers now recognise that putting effort into helping their employees in this regard will pay dividends with higher engagement, more productivity and a happier, healthier workforce. According to a Gallup study employers see a 21% increase in productivity combined with a 22% uplift in profits when they successfully increase employee engagement.
We will undoubtedly see a greater emphasis on wearable technologies and firms investing in these for their workforce. Especially when so much biometric data is to hand in terms of scales, glucose and heart-rate monitors and the help that is available in terms of emotional wellness, smoking cessation, weight management and diabetes. It will be interesting to see how far employers go in integrating these into their overall wellness strategies. Plus, with chronic diseases on the rise such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease etc the cost to organisations cannot be ignored if preventative measures are not supported in the workplace.
More than three quarters** of businesses are planning to incorporate wellbeing into their overall benefits strategies and we will likely see a willingness to explore even more alternative ways to support employees and their wellbeing, including vehicles such as a health savings account or points which employees can use to purchase their own form of wellbeing whether that’s membership to a slimming club, essential oils to support emotional wellbeing or cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to name a few examples.
Millennials are starting to dominate the workforce and older employees are delaying retirement. This is going to present a challenge moving forward in terms of benefit provision and communication. One size does not fit all with a multi-generational workforce and in fact a huge 89% of firms* say they will need to reconfigure their benefit packages to suit this and future generations entering employment. So, we are likely to see more personalisation of the benefits experience for employees.
Communication then, is going to continue to be important, but even more so to ensure employees are truly engaged in their benefits. One email, one poster just won’t be enough to engage a diverse workforce. In most marketing communications it can take up to 11 touches before someone feels confident and has the desire to buy. New technologies will help to support a more targeted approach.
Did you know that there are now more electric charging points available than there are petrol garages? The Government’s Environmental Policy set out ambitious plans to reduce carbon emission and one area of focus is cars. This has directly impacted the tax savings now achievable under salary sacrifice for green cars and from April 2020 an employee selecting an electric vehicle (EV) will be able to benefit from 32% to 42% tax and NI savings. Expect to see a significant rise in the number of employees requesting a greener, cleaner way to drive.
Big company benefits are going to be much more accessible to smaller companies in the next decade with the move to a more self-service admin approach. Plus financial and business advisers are being given the capability to white-label sophisticated technology to give their clients their own employee benefits programme, no matter what the company size. You at Work have made it even easier for employers and advisers alike with our new benefit catalogues which can effectively switch benefits on and deal with all the associated admin in minutes!
Benefits such as GP helplines, health screening, legal services and financial wellbeing will become the norm and we will see the introduction of perhaps some more unusual and creative benefits to increase engagement for the multi-generational workforce in the way of paw-ternity leave and even fertility support or carer support. Recognition will also become even more important especially with millienials who demand a corporate culture that is more inclusive and supportive.
2020 vision is a term used to express the clarity or sharpness of vision measured at a distance of 20 feet. … so how will you sharpen your benefits vision for the next decade and play your part in the soaring twenties?
*Aon Benefit Trends Survey 2019