As per the latest 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey by Willis Towers Watson, rising costs and continuing struggles to engage employees with their benefit programmes, employers in the Asia Pacific, including Singapore, are working towards transforming their overall corporate benefits strategy to better meet employee needs. The study found employers are looking to broaden their benefits strategies, encompassing employee wellbeing and enhancing work policies to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce.
In Singapore, the survey found the primary benefit strategy challenges over 73% employers expect to face over the next three years are rising benefit costs while 66% said it was the differing wants and needs of a multi-generational workforce. 46% of the respondents cited a lack of employee engagement with their benefit programmes as a primary challenge.
Cedric Luah, Managing Director, Head of Health & Benefits for Asia and Australasia, Willis Towers Watson stated, “With a dramatic increase in the number of people aged over 60 years old remaining in employment, today’s workforce comprises of up to five generations – from baby boomers through to the youngest, Gen Z. Each generation has differing requirements and expectations, as well as how they like to receive or consume benefits. This calls for a flexible approach to benefit strategies that reflect the needs of all employees, maximizes inclusivity and engagement while ensuring the employee population feels valued.”
Luah added that while controlling costs remains their top challenge, employers are increasingly focused on a broader benefit strategy that goes beyond their core health and retirement offerings. Companies are now looking for ways to better connect with employees to meet the benefit needs of a diverse workforce and get the most value for their benefit spend.
Top priorities of employers in Singapore for benefits
For instance in Singapore, employers are focusing across a broad range of benefits. When asked about their highest priorities, two-thirds cited aligning benefit provisions with employee wants and needs, followed by incorporating employee wellbeing into their benefit strategy. More than half of the employers are planning to enhance their work policies and incorporate inclusion & diversity into their benefit programs.
Top priorities by employers in Singapore for benefits portfolio:
Align benefits provisions with market norms and employee wants and needs-69%
Incorporate wellbeing into overall benefits strategy-62%
Enhance work policies-57%
Incorporate inclusion & diversity into benefits programs design-56%
Employers in Singapore are also now expanding their focus to address emotional, financial and social wellbeing, other than the physical wellbeing. These include: identifying and managing behavioral health, stress and issues to maintain stability of mind and body of employees across the workforce; identifying and implementing solutions to improve the financial health of the workforce; and identifying and implementing ways to promote a sense of involvement around health and financial issues. Two in five employers are also looking to add or enhance chronic disease management and mental health programs in their organizations.
All in all this approach of a flexible benefits approach that is relevant across a variety of employee groups will augur well for the employers in order to engage employees given the changing nature of our organizations and the need for employers to extend their workforce beyond the physical location of their organizations. A portfolio of benefits that is relevant across a variety of employee groups and ages is a major attraction and retention factor for employees.