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Number of workers who value employee benefits surges

September 2017

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New research in the UK from MetLife Employee Benefits shows the number of British workers who value their employee benefits has surged to 55% in the past two years, but employers need to work harder to increase trust among their employees.

MetLife’s research shows that rising uncertainty in the job market and the wider economy is increasing employees’ interest in benefits: 55% of employees now say they value their benefits compared with just 40% two years ago. The study found that 54% of employees would consider using EAPs. Simple initiatives such as identifying ‘Wellness Champions’ among staff, involving line managers and looking at the bigger picture of wellness could also boost participation.

Nevertheless, the insurance company warns that employees often worry that HR and line managers can see who is using the services and are concerned about how using these strategies may affect their careers. Employee assistance programs are an important driver of workplace wellness strategies, but employers and providers need to rethink how they message and communicate those.

Focusing too much on the counseling aspects of EAPs creates a perception amongst employees that these are the main or only feature. This in turn can prevent employees from engaging at the outset as, unless they feel they need counseling support at that time, they may not re-look at the other features in future. A different approach, focusing on the positive aspects of physical, financial and mental wellness,  positions the services differently in the mind of employees, which in turn can help improve usage and therefore drive better return on investment.

MetLife’s data shows that the impact of giving employees tools like EAPs can be significant when it comes to benefits for the employer: for every one per cent rise in employees feeling in control of their finances, for example, their engagement at work rises by 19%. Feeling cared for by their employer is also a key driver of engagement amongst employees: every one per cent rise in feeling their employer cares for them delivers a 9% increase in engagement and this is even higher, at 12%, where employees feel they have a supportive manager.

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