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Survey Report

2019 Western Europe Benefit Trends Survey

The evolution of benefits in Western Europe: from transactional to transformational

February 7, 2020

The Willis Towers Watson Benefit Trends Survey takes the pulse of current employer perspectives and strategies, exploring the programmes they have in place, their priorities and the key challenges they face over the coming years.
Health and Benefits|Wellbeing

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About this Survey

The Willis Towers Watson Benefit Trends Survey takes the pulse of current employer perspectives and strategies, exploring the programmes they have in place, their priorities and the key challenges they face over the coming years.

Globally, the study was conducted among 4,300 companies in 88 markets, covering more than 22 million employees.

The following executive summary for the Western European market shines a light on the findings from 698 companies, employing a total workforce of 6.6 million across a wide range of industries – from manufacturing, financial services and IT and telecom, to healthcare, general services, energy and utilities and wholesale and retail.

Employee expectations are rising, workforce demographics are changing, benefits provision is evolving, and in an uncertain economic environment, corporate objectives are under constant review. Against this backdrop, complacency in the employee benefits arena cannot be an option.

Benefits strategy

A spotlight on success

Establishing a successful, future-proofed benefits strategy calls for balancing evolving employee needs with effective engagement, developments in the benefits marketplace, corporate and cultural objectives, benchmarking data, pay scale structures, administrative requirements, budgets and cost management. This is no easy task – faced with such a complex undertaking, how is Western Europe faring?

Priority objectives – new directions

The biggest area of focus for companies over the past three years has been their benefits portfolios, closely followed by their administration and operations – cited by 46% and 40% respectively.

However, we now anticipate a shifting trend. While the benefits portfolio is set to remain a priority, talent experience topped the agenda for the coming three years, with 70% of businesses planning to focus on the effective delivery of benefits to employees.

The multi-generational challenge

For the first time in history, today’s modern workplace may see up to five generations working side-by-side – from the silent generation through to their youngest, Gen Z colleagues – and each brings with it a different set of expectations, risks and requirements.

While this divergent demographic has the potential to bring far-reaching skills and experiences to the table, managing the differing wants and needs of such a multi-generational workforce was deemed the number one challenge facing Western European employers.

This recognition, among 55% of survey respondents, should be welcomed, opening the door to establishing strategies that will address this emerging issue. Hot on the heels came the perennial challenge of rising benefits costs, a key area of concern.

The benefits portfolio

Wider provision, choice and wellbeing

More than two-thirds (69%) of businesses plan to enhance their work policies, 66% are looking to align their benefits provisions with market norms and employee wants and needs, 63% plan to incorporate wellbeing into their overall benefits strategies, while 54% aim to enhance their core benefits.

Priorities for employers’ benefit programmes
Enhance work policies (e.g. flexible work, recognition, mentoring, training)
Align benefit provisions with market norms and employee wants and needs
Incorporate wellbeing into overall benefit strategy

Top priorities for financing benefit programmes

  • Maximize the attraction, retention and engagement of employees
  • Managing operating costs
  • Creating value for employers and employees
  • Managing benefits costs and risks

Talent experience

Raising the bar in delivery and communication

Maximizing the Talent Value Proposition (TVP) and the ROI on employee benefit programmes calls for effective processes for delivery and communication. Indeed, four in five (80%) businesses are looking to enhance the communication of benefits to employees.

Priorities for benefits delivery
Enhancing communications of benefits to employees
Improving employee understanding of cost of prorammes
Creating a consistent global brand for benefits
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2019 Western Europe Benefit Trends Survey PDF 1.1 MB

Alejandra Velez
Europe, the Middle East and Africa
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Nuria Esteban
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