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Employers have it wrong when it comes to benefits



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More than half (64%) of Hong Kong employees are not satisfied that their benefits package meets their needs. Yet just as many employers (65%) feel employees highly value their benefits package. This according to a recent survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson, shows a massive gap in communication and understanding between employers and employees.

“This is very worrying, particularly as benefits cost continues to soar. “The gap shows the need for an effective employee communication strategy that gets regular feedback from employees and shows a genuine effort to listen to their needs, and hence improves levels of effectiveness and appreciation,” said Royston Tan, head of health and benefits in Hong Kong at Willis Towers Watson.

The survey also revealed that employers are not even aware of this gap in communication. 78% of employers said that they think employees have a very good understanding of their benefits package yet, only 53% of employees agree with this statement.

Meanwhile, “poor employee understanding of benefits programme” was ranked the least challenging in delivering benefits programmes, with only 11% of Hong Kong employers citing it. The top challenge cited by Hong Kong employers when delivering benefits programmes over the next three years is the rising benefit costs.  Over three quarters (83%) of Hong Kong employers expressed concern about these rising costs, well above the regional average of 67%.

“Tepid economic growth and high business operating costs have both played a part in making employers cautious in any increase to their benefits spending. This is particularly so since the longer-term trends point to cost pressures in the fast-changing business climate,” said Tan.

However, the survey did reveal a change in attitude towards diversifying the types of benefits they offer. While traditional benefits like healthcare are likely to remain, employers are also looking to non-traditional ones with a particular focus on well-being.

Currently, 51% of employers in Hong Kong offer activity-based well-being programmes, and 65% plan to do so over the next three years.There are also a number of programmes for behavioural and emotional health, with 64% of employers planning to offer these in the future.

At the moment, only 29% of Hong Kong employees think their benefits package offers a wide range of choice to meet their needs, much lower than the regional average of 40%. This is an area Hong Kong employers are willing to improve, with 78% of them saying by offering flexibility in their benefits package, it can demonstrate the company’s recognition of employees’ diverse needs, and 69% believe it promotes employee understanding and appreciation of benefits.

Looking forward, about 30% of employers in Hong Kong are considering to provide increased flexibility for employees in their benefits packages, either in expanding choice in benefit levels, flexibility in allocating money, or options to buy additional voluntary benefits.

ALSO READ: The 5 employee benefits trends you need to know

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