Australia, 7 September, 2020 – According to Mercer’s 2020 Australian Benefits Review released today, over the last decade workplace benefit trends in Australia have shifted away from a blanket approach to employee benefits, and are moving towards a more flexible and individualised package for employees. As organisations transition out of the response phase to COVID-19 and transform for their new shape of work, their benefits will need to become adaptable, sustainable, and innovative to attract and retain top talent.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that now more than ever, benefits need to be adaptable to individual employee needs. No longer does a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to benefits work,” said Jessica Balcombe, Principal Consultant and General Markets Product Lead, Mercer. “Since the beginning of 2020, Australian organisations have had to rapidly introduce or adapt HR policies and benefits to support their employees. Just as where we work needs to be flexible, benefits also need to be flexible to a variety of employee circumstances.”
There has been greater focus on holistic employee wellbeing as work becomes increasingly integrated into employee’s home life. Some examples of integrated wellbeing benefits include providing fitness trackers and encouraging teams to set shared exercise challenges, providing subscriptions to paid sleep-aid apps, and family and friends leave, where employees get extra paid leave for purposes such as volunteering at children’s school events.
“During the initial lockdowns in Australia to combat COVID-19, organisations had to rapidly develop and deploy benefits in an uncertain environment to support their employees. Care packages for employees and families while in lockdown was an innovative benefit we saw pop up at the beginning of 2020. At Mercer, we deployed extra support and information sessions for parents working from home while also schooling kids, provided additional uncapped leave for wellbeing, and reimbursement for home office equipment. Ultimately organisations that strive to look after their employees will see the productivity gains of taking a preventative approach to supporting employee wellbeing,” added Balcombe.
As organisations plan for future workforce and business needs, HR policies and benefits urgently need to be reassessed to ensure they’re sustainable for the long term. Looking ahead, benefits will be critical to delivering a compelling employee experience that will engage key talent and can act as a differentiator to competitors.
“The first step to drive innovation in benefit programs is to deeply understand the diverse personas that exist in an organisation,” said Balcombe. “By implementing an employee listening program and taking a data-driven, employee-centred approach to benefit design, organisations can be assured that their benefit investment will have the greatest possible impact while removing those benefits that aren’t used or valued, and focusing on those that matter.”
The Australian Benefits Review (ABR) is the largest and most comprehensive employee benefits data source in the Australian market. Collected in April each year, the data is gathered via an online questionnaire. The comprehensive 2020 report captures data from 370 participating organisations across a variety of industries. Intended as a single reference point for all major benefit and HR policy areas in the Australian market, ABR captures detailed information on wellbeing, wealth and career development policies to name a few. Learn more here.
Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s more than 25,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 76,000 colleagues and annual revenue of USD $17 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.com.au. Follow Mercer on Twitter or LinkedIn.