Slippers working from home

Employee benefits and flexible working lead the way in the war for talent

  • More than half (54%) of workers aged 18-34 said they’d likely quit if their company stopped offering remote or hybrid working, with 58% feeling more productive now than pre-pandemic
  • More than 1 in 5 employees (21%) feel bosses failed to support their mental health during the pandemic
  • 23% have left their jobs, or plan to, as a result of their employer not offering high quality employee benefits or support

The latest research from leading employee benefits provider Unum UK on attitudes to work and employee support suggests employers that helped their people navigate the challenges of the pandemic and responded most successfully have been rewarded by employee loyalty and happiness at work.1

The war for talent has never been greater with vacancies currently at an all-time high,2 but when employees were asked why they remained in the same role as before the pandemic, over half (55%) cited that their employer simply handled the pandemic well.

The increased shift towards flexible working since the start of the pandemic seems set to stay if companies are to attract and retain future talent, with Unum’s research finding that 58% of workers aged 18-34 feel more productive now than before the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, this makes transitioning employees back to work after an extended period of remote working delicate. More than half (54%) of this same age group stating they would quit their jobs, or plan to, if their company removed the option for remote or hybrid working.

More than 1 in 5 (21%) were happy with the flexible working approach their employer offered and 19% felt their company culture had changed for the better since the COVID-19 outbreak.

294,000 people in the UK left their jobs to move to another one after resigning between April – June 2021 — the highest number since 2018 and up by 38% in the previous quarter3 — as momentum gathers pace in what’s been dubbed as ‘The Big Quit’.

Another area employers need be aware of is in the importance of high-quality employee benefits. For example, a fifth of surveyed employees felt their employers failed to look after their mental (21%) and physical health (22%) during the pandemic.

This is something health and wellbeing support, such as the award-winning Help@hand app from Unum* offering mental health support, physiotherapy and a 24/7 digital GP, can provide. That’s important to note given that 21% of employees want wellbeing benefits and support packages that can be accessed remotely.

It’s here Unum’s latest research highlights the value employees place on wellbeing benefits and flexible working in the new working world. Among workers who wanted to change jobs or did so during the pandemic, 23% said it was because their employer did not offer high quality benefit packages or support.

Mark Till, CEO of Unum UK commented: "While salary still factors into decision-making over potential job moves, our research proves just how much value employees place on the quality of benefits and wellbeing support being provided. You just can’t get away with having one but not the other.

"The workforce, in particular younger employees, belonging to this new hybrid world have made job expectations crystal clear. A combination of agile benefits, mental and physical support and a sense of autonomy and trust is the only way businesses will keep their staff loyal, happy, engaged and successful in the long run.”

*Help@hand is a virtual, value-added benefit service which connects the employees of Unum customers to third party specialists who can help manage their health and wellbeing, and that of their family. Access to the service is facilitated by Unum at no cost to the Unum customer. Unum is not the provider of the service but can withdraw or change the service at any time. The service is entirely separate from any insurance policy provided by Unum and is subject to the terms and conditions of the relevant third-party specialists. There is no additional cost or increase in premium as a result of Unum making this benefit available.

1 Research conducted by Opinium research between 28 September and 1 October 2021 amongst a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults.
Office for National Statistics, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: October 2021
Office for National Statistics, Labour force survey flows estimates, August 2021

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