Employee benefits design to attract and retain talent 

Man with tablet

30 November 2022

A strategic employee benefits plan is essential for attracting and retaining top talent

The ongoing war for talent means employee benefits design is becoming increasingly important for attracting talent to your company. Our People Risk Report reveals that two-fifths of employers say their employee value proposition needs improving.
Critical to attracting and retaining talent is thinking strategically to overcome the following challenges:
  • Skills shortages
    A lack of talent, in particular talent linked to digital skills, means employers need to work harder to attract and retain talent needed for future success.
  • Great resignation
    Record numbers of people are re-evaluating what they want from work and changing employer or leaving the workforce altogether.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
    Attracting diverse talent requires creating more diverse and inclusive employee benefits, instead offering generic ‘one-size-fits’ all solutions.
  • Globalization
    Remote working means attracting and retaining talent requires competing with other companies across the globe, instead of just competing for talent locally.
  • Changes to working practices
    With hybrid working on the rise, employee benefit plans must evolve to support people in this new normal, with special attention to ensuring social connectivity.
  • Rising inflation
    The rising cost of living means employers are under pressure to increase pay as a way of attracting and retaining talent.
  • Future proofing
    As well as addressing today's challenges, employee benefits design must be agile enough to enable attracting top talent needed for the future.

As these challenges highlight, what employees want from their employee benefits plan has changed. They no longer just want a good salary, pension and protective benefits (such as income protection if they get sick). They also want help to stay healthy, a good work-life balance and support with issues that are personally relevant to them. Be this juggling work and family, managing the increased cost of living or reducing loneliness.

In essence, employees want to feel cared for by their employer in a way that has direct implications for retaining top talent. According to our Health on Demand Survey , 44% of employees who felt cared for said this made them more loyal to their employer. Compared to just 19% of those who received poor support from their employer.

In terms of what makes employees feel cared for, increasing the choice of benefits on offer is important. 59% of employees with access to ten or more health and wellbeing benefits say this makes them less likely to want to leave their employer, compared to just 24% of those offered the fewest benefits.

This means that increasing choice and targeting segments of your workforce is essential to attracting retaining top talent. These will bring significant value by adding depth and breadth to your offering.

This chart is unable to display due to Privacy Settings.
The chart could not be loaded because the Privacy Settings are disabled. Under the "Manage Cookies" option in the footer, accept the “Functional cookies” and refresh the page to allow the chart to display.
The more varied the health, risk protection and wellbeing benefits on offer, the more employees feel cared for by their employer. This in turn makes them feel more energized and less likely to move elsewhere.

Attracting talent requires listening to what employees want

Employers that listen and respond to what their employees want to provide a more meaningful employee benefits plan. Our Health on Demand report looked at which types of health and wellbeing support employees across the globe are most valued.

Flexible working emerged as the most valued health and wellbeing support. More than nine out of ten (93%) employees said they would at least somewhat value flexible working. Three out of five (60%) said flexible working is highly or extremely valuable.

This means employee benefits design must also evolve to better meet the needs of these employees. For example, by providing support to mitigate poor ergonomic health while working from home. Or digital access to benefits and outlets for social connectivity.

The findings also show how the pandemic has not only changed working patterns, but also how employees want to interact with benefits. Video chats with doctors and apps to manage medical conditions are highly valued by more than half of employees, making these important considerations for attracting top talent.

One in two people also highly value the opportunity to customize their employee benefits to meet their personal needs, meaning the more diverse and inclusive your benefits plan, the more effective you will be at attracting diverse talent. Particularly when it comes to lower-income workers and women, as these individuals currently feel the least cared for by their employers.


This chart is unable to display due to Privacy Settings.
The chart could not be loaded because the Privacy Settings are disabled. Under the "Manage Cookies" option in the footer, accept the “Functional cookies” and refresh the page to allow the chart to display.
A bar chart showing the top 15 HR services and solutions that employees find most valuable, including flexible working arrangements, time off for health and well-being appointments and medical apps.

Employee benefits design for a global workforce

Employers are no longer just competing for local talent. The increasing prevalence of remote working means that organizations are competing with companies across the globe. 

To succeed in this environment, you need to be competitive at a global level. However, rising inflation and struggles attracting talent mean it can be easy to overspend on benefits that aren’t having a positive impact on your talent retention goals. Robust salary and benefits benchmarking and analytics can not only ensure that what you’re offering is competitive, but also equitable and cost-effective.

Analytics can also be used to determine the total reward and employee benefit strategy needed for new roles. Such as digital roles where organizations need to focus on retaining talent and attracting talent away from other industries, where the benefits you offer give a competitive advantage.

Critical to success is using data to identify what matters to different demographics and being innovative about what you can offer. The overall aim should be to create a unique and compelling employee benefits plan that can’t easily be replicated elsewhere. Include benefits that support mental health, as many employees would rather feel less stressed than earn more money.

Three ways to rethink employee benefits design

Design to attract and retain talent by fulfilling employee needs. Use data-driven benchmarking to offer competitive and cost-effective employee benefits. Focus on optimizing spend by giving people what they most want and need.
Make attracting top talent easier by including benefits that create a caring culture. Employees who feel cared for are not only more loyal, but they are also more energized and productive.
Employers who only focus on providing the most popular benefits will miss opportunities when it comes to retaining diverse talent. Progress your diversity and inclusion agenda by giving employees more choice over their benefits to meet everyone’s needs.

Health on Demand 2023. Benefits for all: The secret to thriving employees and thriving businesses

Our study looks at the views of over 17,000 employees across the world, helping you to understand the lives and priorities of your workforce; how to energize, reassure and care for them in the most relevant ways, inspiring your organization to thrive.
About the author(s)
Related solutions
Related insights