A 5-step guide to discover the most important employee benefits in your organisation

May 12, 2021

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As you compare the list of employee benefits that are being offered and used, you might notice a pattern:

Your employees are claiming only a fraction of what your organisation is offering.

You have recently launched an email campaign to promote a new benefit offering, but none of your employees has yet to use that benefit.

Why is this happening?

One of the reasons could be the discongruity between what you perceive and what your employees perceive in employee benefits.

In short, the benefits that may seem important to you may not be perceived as important to your employees. A study showed that nearly 50% of employees said their employers are not offering meaningful benefits that help.

So, what can you do in this case?

The answer is already in the problem statement. Organisations need to find out what are the most important benefits to employees, not to employers.

The question is, how to know which benefits are the most important to your employees?

The best way to know is to do an employee survey. But this could consume a lot of time and resources for medium-sized to big organisations if they don’t have a proper guide. This is why we’ve provided a step-by-step guide on how to do an employee benefits survey in this article.

Bonus: You’ll also learn what benefits employees appreciate the most in the market.

What are employee benefits?

Employee benefits are compensations provided by the employer to the employee besides regular salary. The benefits come in many forms and are generally categorized as monetary and non-monetary.

Examples of monetary benefits are:

  • Bonuses
  • Commissions
  • Stock options
  • Overtime pay
  • Additional paid leave (other than the basic ones)

Examples of non-monetary benefits are:

  • Health insurance
  • Gym passes
  • Mental health education
  • Recognition and praise
  • Career development opportunities
  • Flexible work environment

Tip: Non-monetary doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost any money. It means the employees are not receiving money directly from the employer.

Tip: Surprisingly, employer-paid healthcare insurance is not part of the mandatory benefits but a whopping 56% of employers offer medical benefits.

How important are benefits to employees?

Employee benefits are compensation offered by employers to employees other than salary, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important to them.

In fact, benefits may be a bigger factor in attracting and retaining talents than salary.

Here are some statistics that show the importance of benefits:

  • 69% of employees would be more loyal to the company if they have a wider array of benefits (Metlife Employee Benefit Trends Study, 2020).
  • 70% of US employees are likely to leave for a company that’s known for investing in employee learning and development (Harris Poll, 2019).
  • 80% of respondents are more loyal to the employer if they had flexible work options (FlexJobs, 2019).
  • 78% of employers said they’re more likely to stay because of the employer’s benefits program (Willis Tower Watson, 2018).
  • 41% of workers are likely to look for a new job with better benefits. Millennials (57%) and Gen Zers (65%) are even more likely to do so (Unum, 2019).
  • 60% of employees consider benefits and perks as a major factor when deciding whether to accept a job offer. 80% of them would choose benefits over pay raise (Glassdoor, 2018).

In conclusion, the salary is no longer the only driving factor when considering stay or to accept a job offer. Benefits and perks are beginning to take the limelight of employees' decisions.

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What benefits do employees appreciate most?

The most effective way to know is to ask your employees directly, but it is also important to know what the overall market perceives. This is important to attract new talents using the right benefits.

According to a study by Fractl, they gave 2,000 US workers a list of 17 benefits and asked them to weigh the benefits when choosing between a high-paying job versus a low-paying job.

The results might surprise you.

The top 5 benefits that employees consider as ‘the most important’ are:

  1. Better healthcare, dental, and vision insurance
  2. More flexible hours
  3. More vacation time
  4. Work-from-home options
  5. Unlimited vacation

Tip: Did you know that healthcare costs are rising every year worldwide? Download this guidebook to learn how to reduce the cost of healthcare insurance without sacrificing your employees’ well-being.

Well, what about Asia? Are Malaysia and Singapore also experiencing similar trends?

According to Human Resources Director (HRD), the top benefits trend in Asia are leaning towards:

  1. Employees’ well-being (four dimensions of well-being: physical, emotional, financial, and social well-being),
  2. Flexible approach to benefits (each generation receives different meaningful benefits).

To conclude, the top 5 benefits and the trends in Asia focus on employees’ well-being and benefits flexibility.

How do you know what benefits your employees want?

Now, you have a general direction on which benefits to focus on, let’s look at each step to conduct an employee benefits survey.

Step 1: Choose a list of benefits

Like Fractl, the organisation gave a list of 17 benefits for the study. Likewise, you can list down 10 to 20 benefits commonly offered in the market and let your employees choose.

Here’s a list of benefits to help you get started:

  1. Health, dental, and vision insurance
  2. Life insurance
  3. Paid family leave
  4. Flexible/remote work options
  5. More vacation time
  6. Unlimited vacation
  7. Family leave
  8. Retirement planning
  9. Personal and professional development
  10. Sabbatical leave
  11. Gym membership or onsite fitness centre
  12. Student loan repayment
  13. Onsite healthy snacks
  14. ID theft prevention
  15. Financial planning resources
  16. Fitness goal incentives
  17. Public transit assistance
  18. Pet insurance
  19. Pet-friendly offices
  20. Health coaching
  21. Dedicated volunteer hours
  22. Mental health consultation
  23. Stock options
  24. 4-day work week
  25. Company gatherings
Step 2: Group your employees according to their demographics

The most common grouping is by their age, typically categorized into Traditionalists, Baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.

You can also group them based on their gender, marital status, country of origin, departments, or health needs.

Step 3: Compare the list of benefits to your company culture

Employee benefits should enrich the company culture. Find out which benefit does not support your culture or impossible to implement (for example, you can’t offer stock options if you’re not a public-listed company).

Step 4: Choose a list of questions for the survey

You should avoid double-barreled and vague questions. They can easily demotivate your employees and reduce the response rate.

Survey questions should be specific, short, no-brainer.

How long should your survey be?

According to SurveyMonkey, which surveyed 100,000 surveys, they found that respondents take shorter time answering each question if the survey has more questions. The sweet spot is between 3 - 15 questions.

If you’re wondering what questions to ask, you can take some from the samples below:

  1. How satisfied are you with the benefits offered by your organisation? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy).
  2. I have a clear understanding of the benefits packages offered by my organisation. (From strongly agree to strongly disagree).
  3. I know who to talk to if I don’t understand my benefits. (From strongly agree to strongly disagree).
  4. The benefits my organisation offers can compete with those offered by other organisations. (From strongly agree to strongly disagree).
  5. When I joined the company, all benefits were clearly and thoroughly explained to me. (From strongly agree to strongly disagree).
  6. My company's wellness benefits have improved my physical and/or mental health. (From strongly agree to strongly disagree).
  7. How satisfied are you with your organisation's health insurance? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy)
  8. How satisfied are you with your organisation's vacation policy? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy)
  9. How satisfied are you with your organisation's meal allowances and allocation? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy)
  10. How satisfied are you with your organisation's break time allocation? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy)
  11. How satisfied are you with your organisation's training/skill development program? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy)
  12. How satisfied are you with your working hours? (Scale from 1 to 5, or use emoji faces from sad to happy)
  13. Which three benefits already offered by your organisation are most important to you? (Long text answer)
  14. What are the three most important benefits your organisation does not yet offer and you would like to have? (Long text answer)
  15. Which three benefits are already offered by your organisation but not important to you? (Long text answer)
  16. How likely are you to recommend your organisation as an employer to friends or family based on the offered benefits? (Scale from 1 to 10)
  17. Do you have any comments regarding your organisation's benefits policy? (Long text answer)
  18. Would you like to know more about the compensation and benefits packages available to you? (Yes or No answer)
Step 5: Analyze the survey results and improvise

The survey answers should give you a clear idea of what’s working and what’s not working with your employee benefits plan, whether your employees understand the benefits available to them, and which benefits are useful and unimportant to your employees.  

Once you have identified the nuances, you can then take appropriate actions to ensure your employees are getting meaningful benefits from you.

Depending on the situation, you might need to polish your employee benefits communication plan or remove benefits that don’t serve your employees.


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