Pensions & employee benefits roundup - January 2018

Katri Tuomainen, 03 January 2018

It’s time to take a sigh of relief as yet another Christmas is over. For many Christmas is a challenging period where your decision-making can come under scrutiny especially when buying presents for a diverse bunch of friends and relatives. Getting it right is far from a given! There can be an overload of things to buy, combined with a lack of info as to what the recipient even wants. 

There are similarities in how HR Directors set their benefits strategy and options for staff to select from.

It’s (usually) a limited time window during which choices are made and with an amount of information that many feel can be either too scarce or too much, leading to occasional confusion over the right choices. Some spend a lot of time gathering information and carefully weighing their options while others have less time to devote to making their choices, and need information presented in a way that works for them.

Some employers, do not however, provide quite the level of information their employees would hope to receive. In a survey by Canada Life, nearly a third (31%) of employees expressed a wish that their employer would provide more information about the employee benefits, while 19% stated that they only received benefits information upon first joining the company and never again after that. 13% would have no idea who to turn in order to get further information.

Our research found that employees prefer guidance to a mere delivery of information. 73% of employees say they expect their employer to provide guidance on the employee benefits they offer and how appropriate each benefit might be to them and their family. For employers, delivering this guidance could mean that different employees receive different messages regarding their benefits, focusing on things that are more relevant to that individual’s needs and interests.

One can draw interesting parallels also in the employer’s side. While wish lists provide helpful guidance in Christmas prep, employers can similarly avoid being in the dark about which benefits by trying to better understand what their employees want well in advance. This can be done by scoping employees’ benefit preferences via surveys and/or using analytics to measure take-up. This can help employers to better understand the benefits their staff want.

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Throughout the month our research team keep a close eye on what is happening in the pensions and employee benefits industries. Here is a roundup of the best news articles and stories for December 2017.

‘Fit for Work’ scheme for long-term illness to be scrapped
People Management, 1 December 

The government’s national ‘Fit for Work’ occupational health scheme is to be scrapped as part of a revised strategy to get more disabled people working. Low referral rate blamed for programme’s failure as government announces possible changes to statutory sick pay.

53% of employers cannot afford non-performance-related benefits
Employee Benefits, 4 December 

More than half (53%) of employer respondents cannot afford to provide non-performance-related benefits because their organisation does not have sufficient budget, according to research by One4all Rewards. 

A sharper UK Corporate Governance Code to achieve long-term success and trust in business
The Financial Reporting Council, 5 December

The FRC has published proposals for a revised UK Corporate Governance Code to reflect the changing business environment and help UK companies achieve the highest levels of governance.

OECD: UK has lowest state pension of any developed country
The Guardian, 5 December

British workers receive just 29% of their previous earnings, although private pensions bring figure up to near average.

44% on course to drain pots in 12 years
Corporate Adviser, 5 December 

Fears that pension freedoms may result in retirees running out of cash have been heightened by research showing almost half of drawdown savers are withdrawing more than 10 per cent of their pension savings each year. 

Some gender pay gap reporting “statistically improbable”
Personnel Today, 8 December 

Companies submitting their gender pay gaps are getting their sums wrong and providing statistically impossible numbers, according to an equal pay expert at a law firm.

Employee financial wellness initiatives ‘failing to deliver’
Health Insurance Daily, 8 December

Investment in employee financial wellness initiatives is failing to deliver by focusing on offering information instead of helping workers to change their financial behaviour, a report has warned.

Household survey shows more men than women meet physical activity guidelines
NHS Digital, 13 December 

Nearly two thirds of men (66%) met national aerobic activity guidelines in 2016 compared to 58%of women2, according to NHS Digital figures released today.

Research reveals vast knowledge gap of 50-75 year olds leading to financial strain
Old Mutual Wealth, 11 December

A quarter of retirees are in substantial debt in retirement and close to half of 50-75 year olds understand pensions or the options available to them, shows new research by Old Mutual Wealth and YouGov.

European DB and hybrid pensions have insufficient assets to meet liabilities – EIOPA
European Pensions, 14 December

The European defined benefit and hybrid occupational pension sector has, on average, insufficient assets to meet pension liabilities on the national balance sheet, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority has found.

5.8 million renters have no plan B if they were too ill to work
Royal London, 14 December

New research from Royal London reveals that 5.8 million working private renters do not have a plan B in place to cover their rent if they or someone in their household became too ill to earn an income for three months or longer. 

Employers must start offering clearly labelled benefits 
Canada Life, 14 December

Research from Canada Life Group Insurance reveals 85% of employees are more likely to work for employers who offer clearly labelled benefits.  

No panic over pension increases
Aviva, 14 December

Research from Aviva has found only a small minority of people are planning to definitely opt out of their workplace pension scheme when contributions increase next April.

88% of DC members remain in default funds – PLSA
Money Age, 15 December

Eighty-eight per cent of defined contribution members remain in their default fund, according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.

Pensions: Automatic saving to start at 18 under new plans
BBC, 17 December

Every worker aged 18 or over will begin saving into a workplace pension unless they opt out, under government plans to extend its automatic enrolment scheme.

62% of Brits don’t know value of state pension
BBC, 18 December

Sixty-two per cent of British people do not know that the full value of the state pension is £159.55 a week, according to research by Learn to Trade.

Family-friendly employment rights fail female workers
Economic and Social Research Council, 20 December

Women in zero-hours contracts or part-time employment are left out of family-friendly work arrangements mainly aimed at standard full-time employees.

UK's most googled health issue of 2017 revealed
BBC, 20 December

"What is cancer?" is the UK's most googled health question in 2017 (so far), data reveals. According to experts at Google Trends, other pressing health issues searched for online by British people this year were diabetes, blood pressure and a condition called sepsis.

Toys R Us secures PPF support to avert collapse
Pensions Age, 21 December

Toys R Us has reached a £9.8m agreement with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) which will clear its pension deficit and stop it falling into administration, saving 3,200 jobs.

About the author

Katri Tuomainen Research and Engagement Executive

Katri Tuomainen

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