Employers in APAC increasingly want to revamp their employee benefit programmes

Employers in APAC increasingly want to revamp their employee benefit programmes


In Singapore, over two in three employers (69%) said that integrating employee wellbeing into the benefits package will be their top priority over the next two years.

Employers in Asia Pacific (APAC) have set their sights on revamping their employee benefits strategy. In fact, more than seven in 10 (72%) employers plan to differentiate and customise their benefit programmes over the next two years, an increase from 24% previously, according to Willis Towers Watson's (WTW) latest 2021 Global Benefit Trends Survey.

This growing trend in APAC can be attributed to factors such as the war for talent (57%), the heightened focus on diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) (53%), and the rising benefit costs (50%) as employers aim to: differentiate themselves, personalise the employee experience, and manage the costs of benefit programmes.

Cedric Luah, MD, Head of Health & Benefits for Asia and Australasia, WTW, explained this: "Amid the ongoing pandemic, employers are under increasing pressure to manage their benefit costs while at the same time finding new ways to support their employees’ overall wellbeing.

"Additionally, tight labour markets and the pivot to remote working or a hybrid work model, and a growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion are causing employers to look at their benefit strategies in a new light. As a result, many are now planning actions to enhance their benefit programmes to create a competitive advantage."

What about Singapore?

Diving into the Singapore market, the survey found that:

  • Six in 25 local employers (24%) believe their benefit programmes address the individual needs of their workforce;
  • More than one in five (23%) local employers offer significant flexibility and choice in benefits;
  • One in two said they currently offer competitive benefits overall, and
  • One in three consider their core benefits (health care including some aspects of wellbeing) to be better than other employers’ benefits.

That said, over two in three local employers (69%) highlighted that integrating employee wellbeing into the benefit package remains as the top strategic benefit objective for their organisations over the next two years due to their concerns about employees’ stress, burnout, and mental health issues caused by the pandemic. Behind those are physical wellbeing (59%) and social wellbeing (45%).

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What are employers planning?

Based on a separate wellbeing study also by WTW, organisations in Singapore are taking steps to support employees’ health and wellbeing to enhance employee appreciation, as well as to boost support and communication. To that end, employers are thus looking at four key domains:

  1. Physical: Eight in 25 (32%) employers plan to promote the use of mobile applications to help their employees strengthen their physical wellbeing, and sponsor programmes that target specific cases or chronic conditions in the next three years.
  2. Emotional: More than seven in 20 (39%) plan to look for opportunities to build employee resilience and 37% intend to measure the stress level of the workforce and other leading causes of it.
  3. Financial: More than a quarter (29%) plan to introduce voluntary insurance products, covering life or critical illness for employees and/or their dependents.
  4. Social: Close to a quarter (26%) plan to use social recognition to boost engagement in wellbeing and purpose-related activities, and 22% plan to incorporate inclusion and diversity priorities in their benefit programme design.

Further, it was revealed that more than one-third (38%) employers are also considering the use of technology to address health and wellbeing, as they believe it can help employees feel connected and be productive. These include the use of online or virtual medical services, and those to aid mental or behavioural health, as well as wellbeing apps.

Beyond that, more than two in five (42%) are considering managers training to identify and assist employees with their wellbeing, in other words through personalised communication.

"Employers should start with a review of their benefits portfolio. Their challenge will be to develop an equitable approach that meets the needs of all workforce segments while aligning with the benefit philosophy, culture and welfare programmes with new ways of working and an enhanced employee experience,"Audrey Tan, Head of Health & Benefits, Singapore, WTW, shared.

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