Businesses are missing a trick by not tailoring work place benefits by gender and age, according to a new PwC study.
The study of 2,400 UK employees shows wide variation in workplace benefits favoured by gender and age, with most wanting to see tangible benefits introduced to cut living costs and women more likely to favour benefits linked to childcare and health.
Asked to choose their top two workplace benefits, medical insurance was valued highly by one third of women (32%) but only a quarter of men (24%).
Company car schemes however, were more popular among men, with 29% choosing them as the benefit they’d most like to see introduced at work, compared to 21% of women.
Women were also nearly twice as likely as men to ask for childcare benefits to be introduced. Pensions were 5% more popular with men than women, while workplace share schemes were 9% more popular among male employees than with female.
Respondents revealed an overall preference for employee benefits that cut the cost of living. Asked to rank a selection of new employee benefits, discount shopping vouchers were the favourite, chosen by 44% of respondents. Healthcare (36%) and help with mortgage rates (37%) were the second and third most popular choices among those surveyed. Extra holiday was in fourth place, with 35% of respondents citing it within their top three.
John Harding, Pay, Performance and Risk partner at PwC, said: “Our research highlights that reward is by no means a one size fits all. Despite record low inflation, many people are still feeling the squeeze and value benefits that will save them money.
“Employers need to understand their people and their diversity to design a reward programme that takes account of individual preference. Effectively communicating and targeting benefits to different segments of the workforce could bring significant cost savings and stop the employer wasting valuable cash on benefits that are simply not valued by everyone.”
The survey also suggests that employees starting out in their careers are more likely to be willing to take risks with their pay and are more attracted to variable remuneration.
Asked to swap £1,000 of their salary for the opportunity to receive a performance-related bonus of £5,000, more than a third of respondents aged under 20 agreed (36%), compared to an average across all ages of nearly half that level (20%) and 18% of those aged 40 to 59.
Bonus-related pay options also changed according to industry, with more than one third of respondents willing to work towards a larger bonus in the manufacturing and professional services industries, compared to 27% in the financial services and banking sector and an average of only 15% in the retail, charity and public sectors.
Younger employees were also more willing to opt for workplace training, with a quarter of 18-24 year olds choosing a four-day training programme over monetary rewards. Company cars were also more popular with Generation Y, with one third (32%) of younger employees choosing a company car scheme compared to 27% of those aged 40 and older.
Other day-to-day benefits such as gym membership were also more popular among younger workers, with company gyms chosen as one of 3 most popular benefits by a fifth of respondents in their 20s and 30s compared to just 13% in their fifties.
Discounted or free food and drink was also popular among younger respondents. Overall a quarter of respondents chose a discounted canteen, but this rose to as many as 43% for employees aged under 20. More than half of those surveyed aged under 20 also said they would swap 5% of their salary in exchange for free food and drink at work.
Access to a better rate mortgage was a popular choice for all employees, with 37% citing it as the benefit they’d most like to see introduced. The choice varied between age ranges, with 36% of respondents in their 20s choosing this option, 43% in their 30s and 38% in their 40s.