With flexible working on the rise employees are seeking more influence and flexibility over all aspects of their professional lives, including their reward packages. Four in ten (43%) UK workers want the ability to control their benefits and determine the composition of their reward package. However, this isn’t an option being made available by businesses, as the vast majority of employers (83%) still have complete control over their employees’ remuneration. These results come from the latest survey conducted across six European countries by the Payroll & HR services provider SD Worx, which also examined the benefits that workers would like to prioritise the most.
Employees will sacrifice benefits for increased salary & holidays
If given the option, more than a quarter (28%) of UK workers would actually prefer to have fewer benefits and instead have more cash, which proved to be the most popular change workers would make. UK workers are more likely to feel like this than any other country in Europe, with only 11% sharing that opinion in Belgium. The next most likely to agree with this change are Austrian (20%) and French (20%) workers, ahead of German (19%) and Dutch (17%) employees, indicating that often softer benefits aren’t a priority when compared to an increase in take home pay.
In line with this, 16% of British workers would be happy to sacrifice their holiday allowance in exchange for a boost in pay. However, the fourth most popular change would be an increase in holiday (9%), with an active reduction in other benefits.
Regardless of the specific rewards that employees prefer, the desire for flexibility is so high that 69% of British employees would be more likely to apply for a new job if the prospective employer offered the opportunity for them to put together a personalised remuneration based on a certain budget.
Across all European employees working for organisations that offer a set budget for tailored benefits, 71% agree that they are satisfied and 72% intend to stay with the business for a long time. Moreover, 71% say they would remain in the organisation, even if they received a comparable offer from another employer. In terms of employee retention in an increasingly competitive talent market, getting rewards policies right is absolutely crucial.
Traditional benefits still prove popular
Across Europe, businesses in Austria (28%) and the Netherlands (24%) are already more likely to give employees a set budget to define how their remuneration package is composed, whilst firms in Belgium (9%) are the least likely to do so. Britain scores just below the European average at 17%. When it comes to tailored benefits, if financial reward is taken out of the equation, and employees are given a set budget to put together a bespoke remuneration package, nearly half (48%) would opt for extra holiday. In terms of transport, public transport allowances are king across the UK – with almost a fifth (19%) preferring it over a company car (14%) or a leased bicycle (4%).
Flexible working also plays a significant role in the benefits employees would choose, with home working allowances being a key factor for 21% of respondents and 21% wanting a laptop or smartphone included in their benefits package.
More traditional benefits remained popular choices for the workers offered control of their remuneration, with more than a quarter (28%) opting for an individual pension scheme. Hospital insurance premiums are also a priority, with 11% of British workers wanting a contribution to medical expenses, whilst 12% of employees would want this for their family members too.
Employees value a good work/life balance
In terms of motivations, work/life balance, and the ability to take more annual leave, is the top priority for many workers and 52% explicitly see this as an incentive for choosing certain benefits. Employees in France (63%) prioritise this the most across the Europe, next is the UK, whilst workers in Austria (36%) and the Netherlands (32%) are least likely to opt for additional annual leave.
Wage optimisation is always a significant influencing factor, with almost a third (30%) of employees stating they would choose benefits that reduce tax and/or National Insurance contributions. The key role that money plays in people’s reward decision making is also highlighted by the 25% of workers who would exchange benefits for cash premiums, such as more money in exchange for fewer annual leave days or a smaller company car. Sustainability, and the focus on benefits that favour transport with fewer emissions, were only a priority for 8% workers.
“Whilst money may seem an obvious incentive, in an increasingly flexible world, employees across Europe are also placing a greater emphasis on their personal lives, and having a good work/life balance is clearly very important to them,” said Jeremy Campbell, Chief Commercial Officer at SD Worx. “Mobility and flexible working all contribute to a culture where the employee is in control of their professional day to day life. The ability to tailor a benefits package to suit your individual needs is of great interest for many workers, and businesses need to do more to offer this as standard. Doing so will not only keep current employees happy, it will also help companies find and recruit the best talent.”