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Top 5 employee benefits challenges APAC employers are facing

Top 5 employee benefits challenges APAC employers are facing

Per a survey, 40% of employers have insufficient data to make informed decisions.

Over half of employers (60%) surveyed across APAC say increasing benefits plan cost is among their top challenges. 

Aon's 2022 Asia Pacific Employee Benefit Trends Report was conducted with organisations across Asia Pacific, with half of the respondents having regional or global responsibilities, and half having local country responsibilities. Responses represented various sectors, such as technology, financial services, and pharma and life sciences. Region-wise, there was a strong response rate from the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and India, among other locations.

Overall, the top five challenges shared by respondents were as follows: 

  • rising cost of benefit plans
  • offering diverse benefits and options
  • benefits perceived to be below market
  • benefits insufficient for employees’ needs
  • insufficient data for informed decisions

Per the survey, 40% of employers have insufficient data to make informed decisions, while 50% say benefits are perceived to be below market. One in three say employees are unclear about their benefits, and one in two do not have a clear benefits philosophy or strategy.

The graph below shows the full set of responses around the challenges faced:


As the report pointed out, apart from impacting operating practices, people support, wellbeing and benefits, continuity and planning, the pandemic has also impacted commercial supply, demand, logistics and strategy. All of this impacts benefits leaders, including in the provision of additional employee support, ensuring benefits adequacy, and driving the need for benefits choices for a diverse workforce.

One third of survey respondents say they expect 25% of employees to work from home in future. Further, 51% say benefits benchmarking is a key priority and 44% see addressing the benefits needs of employees as a key priority. The top five priorities noted were:

  • Benefits benchmarking
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Addressing diverse benefits needs
  • Benefits communication
  • The right support for employees

Benchmarking was a particularly high priority in the professional services sector (68%), as is aligning benefits with current strategy or philosophy. In fact, half of respondents say developing a benefits strategy and philosophy is an important future priority.

Interestingly, pension plan review is cited as a priority for one in five companies. In addition, 41% of respondents say they are not fully happy with the level of service from their current insurer due to reasons such as a slow response to queries, speed of issue resolution, insufficient management information and e-capabilities.

Providing benefits choice and options for a diverse workforce is noted as a top priority for more than half of survey respondents in all sectors. In fact, more than one third of employers indicate they are now exploring a flexible benefits programme. Notably, employers with a flexible plan already in place are more prevalent in Singapore, India, Malaysia, China, the Philippines and Hong Kong; the same locations where employers without flexible benefit plans say they are looking to implement one for the first time. 

Although responses varied, some themes emerged by sector. For example, the focus on flexible benefits is higher in technology, financial services and pharma and life sciences, closely followed by professional services and retail.

While more than half of employers say employees are not fully clear about their benefits, employees in the technology, retail and pharma and life sciences sectors are more likely to be fully aware of their benefits. On the other hand, employers in professional services and financial services say employees are less likely to be fully aware of their benefits.

Here's an insights into current priorities for benefits decision makers:


Looking ahead, one in two respondents say designing a benefits strategy is their number one future priority, followed by 43% saying providing a more flexible benefits offer is their second priority.

Here's the full data on future benefits priorities such as a devising a strategy, implementing more flexible benefits, and more:


All images / Aon 2022 Asia Pacific Employee Benefit Trends Report

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