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Survey Report

Elevating benefits to improve market position and program efficiency

Global highlights from the 2023 Benefits Trends Survey

August 28, 2023

Employers face a tight labor market and a challenging economic environment. Despite these pressures, they remain focused on elevating their benefits for employees.
Benessere integrato|Health and Benefits|Employee Experience|Retirement|Inclusion-and-Diversity|ESG and Sustainability|Employee Financial Resilience
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Today, organizations face a shortage of key talent in almost all regions of the world. In addition, they also grapple with economic challenges due to persistent downstream effects of the pandemic. However, their focus on offering benefits that meet their employees’ diverse needs has not wavered.

Benefits matter

Competing for talent is by far the most persistent business issue for employers (Figure 1), as reported by more than three in four (76%) of employers globally. In addition, employers also face cost pressures, with half of employers globally (51%) citing rising costs as a key influence on benefit strategy. This figure jumps to 62% in North America and 66% in Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA).

Key business issues influencing benefit strategy
Figure 1. Key business issues influencing benefit strategy

This puts employers in a difficult position. Spending more on benefits to attract and retain talent would be at odds with the current business environment and focus on cost containment. This is prompting employers to look for alternative solutions, such as enhancing choice and flexibility and improving efficiencies.

Along with this heightened focus on talent and cost, employers also cite other issues influencing their benefit strategy, including the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as well as flexible working and mental health.

Key benefit strategy issues

When asked to identify the top three most important benefit strategy issues across the five dimensions, more than half of employers globally (55%) and in CEEMEA (54%), Latin America (53%) and Asia Pacific (56%) cited plan costs (Figure 2).

However, in North America, where benefits are a larger component of the employment package and where rising benefit costs have been an issue for some time, this figure rises to 72%, while in Europe, it drops to 48%.

Figure 2. Key benefit strategy issues (percentages ranked top three)
Global North America Europe CEEMEA Latin America Asia Pacific
Plan cost 55% 72% 48% 54% 53% 56%
Meet needs for all employees 50% 49% 57% 63% 51% 42%
Wellbeing 46% 42% 43% 36% 53% 48%

Half of employers globally indicated that meeting the needs of all employees was an important issue. This figure increases to 57% in Europe and decreases to 42% in Asia Pacific. This issue is linked to the importance of DEI in the benefit agenda highlighted earlier.

With an increasingly diverse workforce, employers will likely need to address DEI issues to offer benefits that support wellbeing, promote equitable health outcomes and meet varied needs to attract and retain talent in a competitive market.

The focus on wellbeing continues to stand out. Employers recognize the importance of helping employees improve the different aspects of their wellbeing. Over four in 10 employers across most regions ranked wellbeing a top three benefit strategy issue.

Future direction

Looking ahead over the next two years, employers are focused on shaping a more competitive benefit portfolio that meets their employees’ diverse needs across a range of areas (Figure 3):

  • Financial wellbeing/short-term finances comes in first. Approximately four in 10 employers globally (39%) and in North America (41%), Europe (39%) and CEEMEA (38%) indicate this is the benefit area where they most want to improve their market position, and this goal is shared by almost half of employers in Latin America (49%).
  • Additionally, roughly three in 10 respondents globally (31%) and across most regions indicated they were looking to improve their position in retirement plan/long-term finances. Both long- and short-term finances and financial wellbeing was flagged as a main focus by employees in the Global Benefits Attitudes Survey.
  • In our 2021 survey, respondents identified emotional wellbeing as their top wellbeing priority, and employers in North America were most likely to report weakness in this area. Two years later, the need for improved benefits to help employees suffering from anxiety and depression persists. Approximately three in 10 (31%) of employers globally aspire to improve their support for mental health.
Percentage of employers looking to improve their benefits positions
Figure 3. Percentage of employers looking to improve their benefits positions

Improving benefit financing

To strengthen their benefit financing in the next two years, roughly three-quarters of employers globally (74%) plan to improve the terms of their vendor contracts (Figure 4). More than half of employers (55%) have already taken steps to reevaluate these contracts.

Actions taken in benefits financing
Figure 4. Actions taken in benefits financing

Across the different regions, a large majority of employers plan to take action in this area, including employers in CEEMEA (65%), Asia Pacific (71%), Europe (74%), Latin America (79%) and North America (80%).

To find out more from the 2023 Benefits Trends Survey, please download the full report using the form on the right. You can also explore our regional findings:


Contacts

Health and Benefits, Global
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Health and Benefits, Asia Pacific, CEEMEA and Latin America
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Responsable Offre & Solution
Gras Savoye Willis Towers Watson
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Health and Benefits, Great Britain and Western Europe
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Health and Benefits, North America
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