So much has changed in the past 12 years. The world is now a very different place to the one we inhabited in 2004 when Employee Benefits published its inaugural Benefits research.
In the reward and benefits arena, for example, pensions simplification was one of the hot topics of the day ahead of its 2006 implementation; auto-enrolment wasn’t even a twinkle in Steve Webb’s eye and it is fairly safe to say that the concept of offering the level of flexibility at retirement afforded by the 2015 pension freedoms is unlikely to have occurred to the government of the time.
In many organisations, reward and benefits was also not seen as the strategic business tool that it now is when it comes to supporting the wider HR and business agenda and goals.
Yet, some things have not changed in this time. One common factor across all organisations, regardless of sector, size or business agenda, is the need to recruit, retain and engage employees possessing the talent and skills necessary to ensure business success.
Reward and benefits play a key role in employers’ strategies for achieving this. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the key issues shaping employers’ benefits strategies have not changed over the past 12 years. This year, just as in 2004, the top two reasons behind respondents’ decisions to offer benefits are the role these have to play in aiding staff recruitment and retention.
Of course, change is an inevitable part of life, in some cases, taking place at lightening speed. This is perhaps most apparent in the vast number of technological developments that have entered the market in recent years. Many of these, such as wearable fitness technology, apps and gamification, have begun to filter down into organisations’ people management and benefits strategies. Although it is still relatively early days for such initiatives and their potential has perhaps yet to be fully realised in this market, the proportion of employers that cite advances in technology as issues driving their benefits strategy has notably risen in the two years since we last carried out this research in 2014.
It will be interesting to follow these developments and see what the next few years will bring.