Employers need to target benefits by demographics

There is a wider spread of demographics in our workforces than ever before, with five different generations, each with its unique health and wellbeing requirements

Employers need to target benefits by demographics

However, according to our research, we are seeing that three quarters (75%) of companies do not offer specific employee benefits to different demographics of staff. This is despite 61% of companies stating they receive requests from staff for demographic wellbeing support, such as by gender or age. 

Whilst we understand that everyone is individual there are definitely some patterns and trends that can be picked up by grouping various features together based on their demographic. This could include looking at different generations as we know Baby Boomers needs are different to Generation X’s which again differ to Millennials. Often, but not always, this is linked with life stages. We can then also add gender to the considerations.

Age and gender demographics are arguably the two most influential features in profiling health, wellbeing and protection needs and therefore a great place to start. There is then a sliding scale of more in-depth analysis of the likely requirements of each individual to ensure true personalisation of benefit provision.  

This can include risk profiles, including lifestyle, and likelihood of having a health and wellbeing challenge. The research shows that only a quarter (25%) of employers target benefits to specific groups based on age, lifestyle, and risk factors. Offering health and wellbeing support by risk factor involves considering the risk of an individual developing certain health conditions, such as diabetes. This can play a significant role in deciding on the most relevant preventative and supportive measures to introduce.

So, why are employees not offering specific employee benefits for the different staff demographics?

One reason is that employers fear it is too complicated to achieve. This was stated by nearly half (48%) of employers in our research. Although they did also state that the company would like to be able to offer benefits in this way.  

Others have simply not thought about it. They either feel it is important to offer the same benefits to everyone regardless – which is a great sign of equality but doesn’t necessarily get the desired outcomes – or they have always had a hierarchal benefits structure where more senior members of staff automatically get benefits package one and others get lesser benefit packages as their seniority within a business reduces.

It is time to think differently to get the maximum return on value from the benefits you are providing.  

What is the risk if you don’t do this?

A business could be spending money on health and wellbeing support and employee benefits that are simply not relevant. In turn this means that the benefits are undervalued and underutilised and employees do not feel like the benefits are speaking to them or are relevant. 

This will not then assist the company when it comes to supporting retention of existing staff, their productivity or absence rates. It may also impact recruitment as we know a lot of younger generations are looking for employers that understand them, understand their needs, and support them, with wellbeing high on the agenda.

What can be done?

It really doesn’t need to be overly complex and by considering risk and need – such as age and gender – this can direct which benefits would be most relevant, such as support for fitness, fertility, menopause, or heart health.

Our research found that the most likely option for risk profiling is for employees to complete a questionnaire on their risk of serious illness or other conditions. This was offered by over a third (36%) of companies. Questionnaires on weight and fitness are carried out by 27% of companies. The more in-depth option of a medical assessment of risk of serious illness is offered by 26% of companies. 

The more targeted health and wellbeing support is, the more it will benefit the individual and, therefore, the company, with a greater return on investment. Making support more specific to the individual makes employee benefits more highly valued, utilised and cost effective, as the money is spent where it will have the most impact.

Debra Clark
Debra Clark

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