Pensions & employee benefits roundup - May 2017

Gareth Davies, 05 May 2017


We have seen three interesting stories this week which, in their own way, promote the idea of flexibility within the workplace and how they could help promote a healthier lifestyle, help to retain staff who had handed in their notice and improve overall wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Research by Powwownow found that three-quarters of employees believed that traditional working environments detract from a healthy lifestyle and its research went further – 44% of employees believed they would lead a healthier lifestyle if they were able to work outside the office. One4all Rewards carried out research and found that 17% of employees who had handed in their notice would reconsider quitting if they were offered flexible working. And researchers at the University of Birmingham were keen to highlight the “positive effects associated with informal flexibility and working at home”.

The key word here is “flexibility” and offering it in different forms can be hugely popular. We have seen from our own research that providing flexibility. Our research last year found that one in five (19.6%) employees cited flexible working hours as a way that an employer could show staff they felt valued – this came in third place behind getting a pay rise and being thanked.

Flexibility in the workplace can extend beyond working hours to include how employees access and select the benefits provided by their employer. When given flexibility, employees like to make the most of this and from our research this year just under two-thirds (65.8%) of employees who have flexibility say they make the most of this facility. Technology has moved on now and flexible benefits schemes have evolved to adopt an “anytime benefits” approach where employees can make multiple changes to benefits when they need to.

Flexibility gives employees control to either work or choose benefits in a way that best suits them. And as the research from Powwownow, One4all Rewards and the University of Birmingham has helped demonstrate, this can improve perception, appreciation and overall wellness.


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 April 2017.

86% believe living wage accreditation improves employer reputation
Employee Benefits, 3 April

Research by the Living Wage Foundation and Cardiff Business School found that 86% of voluntary living wage accredited employer respondents believe that living wage accreditation has enhanced their organisation’s general reputation as an employer.

42% of savers say pension changes have made them ‘switch off’
Pensions Age, 3 April

Four in ten pension savers say the constant changes to pensions has led to them switching off from the topic, research from Prudential has found.

74% believe traditional working environments detract from a healthy lifestyle
Employee Benefits, 4 April

Almost three quarters (74%) of respondents believe traditional working environments detract from a healthy lifestyle, according to research by teleconferencing organisation Powwownow.

Certain perks could retain quitting staff
HR Magazine, 4 April

Flexible working, promotions or salary increases might keep staff who have handed in their notice according to research carried out by One4all Rewards.

Half of fathers would not use Shared Parental Leave
HR Magazine, 5 April

Almost half (48%) of fathers would not use Shared Parental Leave (SPL), with the majority citing cost as a key barrier, according to research from Working Families.

More than five million people saving more due to freedoms
Professional Pensions, 5 April

Over one in eight of the working population are saving more into their pension pots as a direct result of the introduction of Freedom and Choice, Aegon has found.

Freedom and choice: Engagement improved but confusion remains
Pensions Expert, 6 April

Two years have passed since the government introduced the pension freedoms, and although the flexibilities have improved engagement to some extent, the increased complexity has also led to confusion.

Skills reform needed to address longer working lives, MPs say
CIPD, 7 April

Employers and government must commit to upskilling older workers ahead of labour shortages, recommends Skills Commission report.

14% plan to ask for a pay rise in 2017
Employee Benefits, 10 April

More than one in 10 respondents (14%) plan to ask for a pay rise in 2017, according to research by job site Adzuna.

Annuity sales fall to all time low
Corporate Adviser, 11 April

Annuity sales fell to their lowest level this century in Q4 2016, with 17,000 contracts put in place compared to 20,000 the previous quarter, although the value of the average fund invested climbed to £58,100.

FCA working group recommends 'five financial rules of thumb'
Professional Adviser, 11 April

The regulator's Financial Advice Working Group (FAWG) has proposed five financial 'rules of thumb' and 'nudges' designed to help people meet common personal finance needs.

Savers could run out of money in 25 years under average drawdown rate
Professional Pensions, 12 April

Savers using drawdown in retirement are potentially accessing their funds at an unsustainable rate, with money likely to run out within 25 years. Many pensioners are adopting a 6.2% withdrawal rate, with an increasing number doing so immediately upon retirement, an analysis by Royal London has revealed.

This smart bra can help you keep calm when you're getting stressed
Mashable, 12 April 2017

The Vitali smart bra measures physical and mental health by monitoring breathing and heart rate variability with fabric sensors.

Total pay increased by 0.2% in real terms
Office for National Statistics, 12 April

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between September to November 2016 and the three months to February 2017 found that total pay increased by 0.2% in real terms.

12 million people covered by group risk schemes in 2016
Employee Benefits, 13 April

More than 12 million individuals were covered by group risk schemes at the end of 2016, according to research by Swiss Re.

Employees feel pressured to respond to work 24/7
HR Magazine, 13 April

The majority of employees feel pressure to respond to work-related messages at all times, according to a report from Bupa, with 75% feeling under pressure to respond to emails outside of work hours.

Generation X 'unrealistic' by relying on property to fund retirement
Professional Pensions, 13 April

Nearly half (47%) of 35 to 54-year-olds plan to use property to fund their retirement lifestyles, with some anticipating this despite not yet owning their own home, according to research by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

Women’s pensions a third the size of men’s
Corporate Adviser, 18 April

Women have barely a third the pension savings of men, with their average pot just £24,900 compared to the £73,600 held by males, new research by Aegon has found.

Young should save £131 a month for a secure retirement
Pensions Age, 19 April

Young workers in their twenties should save £131 a month to secure a comfortable retirement, research by Which? has found.

29% of baby boomers cite work-life balance as top consideration when looking to move jobs
Employee Benefits, 21 April

More than a quarter (29%) of baby boomer employee respondents view work-life balance as the most important factor when considering a change in job, according to research by Hays.

MPs recognise role of GIP in promoting health and wellbeing
Health Insurance & Protection Daily, 21 April

MPs have recognised the role that group income protection (GIP) can play in helping employers retain people with health conditions and promote wellbeing.

Government drops retrospective money purchase annual allowance cut
Corporate Adviser, 25 April

The Government is dropping the retrospective reduction of the money purchase annual allowance (MPAA) that would have seen 500,000 people who exercised pension freedoms restricted in their pension saving.

Government launches gender pay gap viewing service
Employee Benefits, 25 April

The Government Equalities Office has launched an online gender pay gap viewing service to enable the public to see the information that organisations have published so far to fulfil their gender pay gap reporting obligations.

Autonomy in the workplace has positive effects on well-being and job satisfaction, study finds
University of Birmingham, 25 April

New research into workplace culture has found that employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work reported positive effects on their overall well-being and higher levels of job satisfaction.

Obesity fuels surge in kidney cancer cases
Health Insurance & Protection Daily, 27 April

An estimated 20,000 kidney cancer cases have been caused by obesity over the last decade in England, figures show.



About the author

Gareth Davies Head of Research and Engagement

Gareth Davies

Insight Research

Our research reports are aimed at Pension Trustees and HR Directors, covering topics such as pensions, health, flexible benefits, engagement and wellness. They are free to download!

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