Morgan McKinley Ireland has carried out the first ever cross-sector benefits survey in the Republic of Ireland and has identified the benefits most-wanted by employees.
Irish workers are aligned in terms of the benefits most desired, namely the traditional benefits of pension, health insurance and bonuses.
The survey by Morgan McKinley has found that while salary still plays a role in attracting talent, employees now want regular, flexible, and holistic benefits that add value to their personal and professional lives.
“Getting the package right with the proper mix of compensation, non-monetary rewards and benefits can become a major draw to attract and retain great talent. In fact, non-monetary benefits can play a surprisingly powerful role”
The survey covered 1,551 individuals representing an overall employee population of over 1.1m across 22 industry sectors and 30 counties in Ireland. The companies, corresponding to these employee responses, represent headquartered businesses from 48 different countries.
Morgan McKinley’s findings confirm that, in today’s employment market, benefits can be as important as competitive salaries in supporting candidate attraction and employee retention. In the eyes of prospective employees, a benefits offering that aligns to an individual’s values and needs, can help employers differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The three benefits most valued or most desired by employees are still the “traditional” ones, namely health insurance, pensions, and paid sick leave. Despite efforts from Irish employers to develop their benefits offering, the survey also shows that multinational employers in Ireland provide a more comprehensive benefits offering.
Who gets what
Employees working in the Information Technology (IT), Financial Service, Life Sciences and Utilities & Energy Industry sectors tend to be offered more benefits than their peers working in other industry sectors such as Education, Agriculture & Food and Engineering.
The top benefits offered by Irish-based employers across all sectors are: pension, paid sick leave, work from home, bonus and incentives and health insurance.
But the benefits most valued by employees are: health insurance, pension, paid sick leave, bonus and incentives and the right to work from home.
When it comes to offering benefits, the most offered benefits by employers are: pension, paid sick leave, the right to work from home, bonus and incentives and health insurance.
“These results show an alignment between employees’ and employers’ perceptions of benefits, but it also depicts a high degree of consistency between the ‘most important’ benefits and the ‘most offered’ benefits in Ireland,” commented Trayc Keevans, global FDI director at Morgan McKinley Ireland. “This shows that employers have a good understanding of what is valued by their workforce.
“Getting the package right with the proper mix of compensation, non-monetary rewards and benefits can become a major draw to attract and retain great talent. In fact, non-monetary benefits can play a surprisingly powerful role.
“Beyond traditional healthcare plans and pensions, employees now expect a broader choice of benefits that reflect their changing needs and lifestyles. Meeting these expectations gives employers an opportunity to differentiate themselves in a very competitive market for talent.”
Some 73.6pc of employees surveyed said that they did receive some form of Pension benefit from their employer.
This percentage increases to 84.9pc for employees working in Financial Services, 83.4pc for employees working in the Life Sciences sector and 81.9pc for employees working in the IT sector.
The most popular pension scheme in Ireland is the Defined Contribution (DC) scheme. 78.8pc of employees are currently offered a DC pension scheme as opposed to 18.2pc being offered a Defined Benefit (DB) scheme.
Paid sick leave
Some 67.4pc of employees reported that their company provides them with paid sick leave.
Around 51.7pc of employees who participated in the survey reported not to have taken any Sick Leave in 2020.
This percentage is highest at 72.4pc for Construction employees, 66.7pc for Transport employees and 64.3pc for employees working in Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs).
Working from home
Some 69.9pc of employees reported that they would like to be offered a mix of remote and onsite working in the future and a further 20.5pc shared their wish to only work from home.
At the time of the survey, 81.8pc of employee respondents were working from home, either exclusively (65.4pc) or as part of a blended working schedule (16.4pc).
Only 13.2pc of employees have reported remote working to have had a negative impact on their productivity (45.2pc female and 54.8pc male).
It is more frequently offered to employees working in IT, Telecommunications, BPOs, Financial Services and Education sectors.
Skin in the game
On average, 25.6pc of employees reported to be offered some form of Stock/Shares. This percentage reduces to 9.0pc for employees working in micro-companies and increases to 37.5pc for employees working in companies with a headcount of 1,000 or more.
52.0pc of employees working for a US headquartered company are offered some sort of stock or share scheme as opposed to 34.8pc of employees working for German companies, 23.3pc of employees working for UK companies and 9.1pc of employees working for Irish companies.
The most commonly offered type of Stock/Shares are Approved Profit Sharing Schemes (APPS) and Restricted Stock Schemes.
On average across all industry sectors in Ireland, 58.5pc of employees reported to be offered company sponsored Health Insurance.
This percentage rose to 82.4pc for employees working in IT, 77.3pc for employees working in Life Sciences and 71.4pc for employees working in the Business Process Outsourcing sector.
Professional development and educational support
Educational support is highly valued by employees, and it is often underestimated by employers.
41.6pc of employees stated they are offered Educational Support benefits. This percentage goes up to 61.0pc for employees working in Financial Services and to 53.6pc for employees working in the Life Sciences industry sector.
More than half (57.6pc) of employees working for US companies reported to be offered Educational Support as opposed to 26.1pc of employees working for German companies and 32.8pc of employees working for Irish companies.
Educational Support is valued most in the youngest age demographic as young professionals strive to increase their value to employers and progress their careers.
Wellness and wellbeing
Less than 50pc of Irish employees working in companies of under 1,000 employees reported having access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
This may be due to a lack of awareness of the offering by employees or the details of how to access it or what it contains.
Some respondents cited a distrust of how their access and use of this program would be shared with their employer and elected not to avail of it in spite of a definite need.
A very marginal proportion of employees (1.1pc) reported to be offered childcare support by employers in Ireland.
While there have been some improvements in the Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parent‘s Leave offering from employers, this support is only for a short defined burst period in a parent’s lifetime.
The future of work
“The Covid-19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdowns, and the ensuing social distancing rules have undoubtedly had a big effect on the workplace,” said Keevans. “This has impacted everything from where we are working, how we are working, and how long we are working. Employees have become accustomed to autonomy and flexibility in the enforced virtual workplace.
“Employers have responded and revised their benefit strategies with 1 out of 4 employers surveyed confirming that they have amended their benefits offering because of Covid-19. As a result, flexible and hybrid work models are anticipated to proliferate in 2021 and are likely to endure.
“The pandemic has also brought challenges for the wellbeing of employees both in terms of health issues, along with more personal and emotional trials and tribulations associated with extended isolation. However, there were some indicative responses from employees suggesting they were not well enough informed of the details of their company’s Employee Assistance Plan, which could suggest better promotion of this benefit is required where companies provide for it.
“One of the more surprising insights from our survey was that the provision of childcare support in the form of childcare vouchers was the least offered benefit. The struggle for parents to balance careers and caregiving was an issue even before the pandemic. There is now a real opportunity for employers to achieve a better balance in the workplace through the inclusion of childcare support in their benefits offering,” Keevans concluded.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Tailoring personalised benefits and rewards can be a highly effective way to attract and retain talent while making the world of work a more enjoyable, creative and productive place for employees – who are, after all, an organisation’s greatest asset.”