Employers today face a range of challenges when it comes to their benefits strategy. Foremost among these are the rapidly rising benefits costs and difficulties in the ability to engage, attract and retain key talent. With issues around the cost of living and the accelerating focus on benefits inclusivity, steering the right course on benefits strategy is challenging now more than ever.
The 2023 Benefits Trends Survey found that while employers have their sights on staying competitive when it comes to their benefits, they require a road map to strike a balance between competing ambitions.
Competition for talent and rising costs are the key issues influencing benefits strategy. The competition for talent continues to be an evergreen issue in Asia Pacific, also topping the list of issues for employers two years ago (Figure 1). Rising costs have now become more prominent, with many countries seeing a sharp jump in inflation coming out of the pandemic, and with the highest medical cost increases seen in 10 years.
A focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), while dropping a couple of spots from 2021 because of the rise of more pressing business issues, is nevertheless still high on the list, cited by almost a third (31%) of employers across Asia Pacific. In addition, it’s a top-three issue for employers in Australia, China, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
When asked to identify the top three most important benefits strategy issues across the five dimensions, more than half of employers cited plan costs (Figure 2). Other criteria include:
These issues are key focus areas across most markets in Asia Pacific. Some markets — Australia, Taiwan and Thailand — had wellbeing as their top focus.
There is some mismatch between employer priorities and employee wants and needs. For instance, many workers are looking for more support with their long- and short-term finances, but that is an area of focus for only around one in 10 employers in Asia Pacific. Employers recognise the need to bridge these gaps and improve their market position.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) was the top priority for employers in Asia Pacific two years ago, and it continues to be a focus, building on the growing understanding that creating inclusive workplaces have ramifications that go beyond the immediate acceptance that employees feel. More than a third (35%) of employers have begun to develop their DEI objectives, and approximately three in five are planning or considering conducting a benefits review through a DEI lens.
For more insights and recommendations on how to elevate your benefits strategy, download the full report.