Learning & Development Asia 2024
Which are the most important non-salary related employee benefits?

Which are the most important non-salary related employee benefits?


A wide range of employees considered contributory pension & savings scheme important across Singapore, Hong Kong, the UAE, the UK, and South Africa.

The 2023 Non-Salary Benefits Global Survey polled the views of more than 2,000 workers across various regions including Singapore, Hong Kong, the UAE, the UK, and South Africa, to find significant discrepancies in the popularity of employee benefits across markets.

The survey, carried out by YouGov and commissioned by Employee Benefits Isle of Man, underscores the difficulties multinational companies face in tailoring benefits across regions.

The following are the perceptions of workers as identified in the report towards various non-salary employee benefits:

Overall, among full-time employees who consider non-salary-related benefits very or fairly important, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE placed high levels of importance on this measure and were closely bunched with 81%, 80% and 81% respectively stating it to be very or fairly important.

Contributory pension/savings

A wide range of employees considered this important across the surveyed jurisdictions. The UK sample of full-time employees surveyed was the highest at 66% with Hong Kong expat full time workers surveyed coming in second highest at 57%. The UAE expat full-time workers sample surveyed was the lowest at 36%, perhaps as a result of shorter employment time horizons and the availability of end of service gratuities in the region, mandatory for certain zones in the UAE.

As you might expect, the importance of pensions generally increases between ages 35 and 55, with most jurisdictions showing a drop-off after age 55.

Employee share scheme options

This was the least important of all non-salary related benefits across all jurisdictions – no jurisdiction rated this above 42%. Lowest was the UK with only 15% of full-time workers surveyed considering this important. The low showing may be a function of it being the least widely available or understood benefit option, or could point towards a sentiment of employment short-termism amongst employees.

There was a notable regional discrepancy in Southeast Asia with 40% of expat full time workers surveyed in Hong Kong seeing this as an important consideration compared with 29% in Singapore.

Healthcare/private medical plan

The importance of private medical cover showed a wide range across jurisdictions with South Africa expat full-time workers surveyed highest at 64%, followed closely by Singapore expat full- time workers surveyed at 61%. The UK full-time workers surveyed scored lowest at 37%.

These results most likely reflect the surveyed employees’ perceived access, or lack thereof, to adequate state- funded medical services.

Death-in-service cover

This ranked as second-lowest requirement of all the non-salary-related benefits across all jurisdictions. South Africa expat full-time workers surveyed felt the highest at 48% and Singapore was the lowest at 24%. There was a wide regional difference in Southeast Asia, with the Hong Kong expat full-time workers surveyed placing a much higher importance on death-in-service (47%) compared with Singapore (24%).

This again may point to employee short-termism and a perception that the value of such a benefit, and likelihood of a claim, is less than other options which could have a more immediate impact.

Critical illness cover

Across all jurisdictions, critical illness cover was considered a more important option than death-in-service. The South Africa sample of expat full-time workers surveyed was highest at 54% closely followed by Hong Kong (51%) & Singapore (50%) which were almost identical.

The UK was lowest with only 30% of full-time workers surveyed rating this as important. 

Flexible/remote working

Singapore ranked highest here with 65% of the expat full-time workers surveyed considering this important, followed by the UK full-time workers surveyed at 59%. The lowest was the UAE sample of expat full-time workers at 36%.

Flexible annual & family leave

UAE expat full-time workers ranked this the lowest of all jurisdictions but it was still considered important by 50% of the respondents here. All other jurisdictions were very tightly bunched (between 58% and 64%) with Singapore ranked highest. 62% of UK expatriate workers ranked this as important.

As this is a measurable cost to the employer, it is interesting to see this ranking above all else across the globe.

Physical & mental health support

South Africa expat full-time workers, at 63%, ranked this the highest of all jurisdictions by some distance and there was a broad range here with only 34% of UK full-time workers regarding this as important.

Professional development & study support

Singapore and South Africa were joint highest here at 52%, the UAE (38%) was lowest, closely followed by the UK at 39%. The low UK showing is perhaps surprising. This may be a function of the industry-agnostic sample that was taken and age-related considerations may also come into play.

On the broad findings, Michael Crowe, Chief Executive, Finance Isle of Man, said:  “What stands out clearly is that a 'one size fits all' approach is increasingly obsolete in today’s diverse global workforce. Workers worldwide are placing greater importance on flexible non-salary benefits, signalling a shift towards more personalised and immediate value-adding benefits. " 

ALSO READ: Provisions under Singapore's new SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme for mid-career workers to take effect from 1 May 2024

Photo / 123RF

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