Changing Trends in Employee Benefits


Employee benefits has been a relatively ignored part of the total compensation until last few years. While employee benefits can vary basis various factors like location, employee size and industry, some benefits are quickly becoming more common in competitive industries. The 2017/2018 Asia Pacific Benefit Trends survey conducted by Willis Tower Watson got responses from 1,141 large Asia Pacific employers. And it shows that almost two-thirds (61%) of employers in Asia believe that their benefits package improves attraction and retention of talent.

“Considering the needs of an increasingly diverse and multi-generational workforce, benefits design and its delivery has to be more agile than ever”

The current period is very interesting as organizations have multi-generations working together including Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. And more interestingly, their benefit needs and expectations are different than each other. A recently published trend by BenefitFocus® shows that while Baby Boomers are looking for retirement benefits, Gen X is interested dependent or family benefits whereas Millennials and especially Gen Z is expecting lifestyle benefits.

Globally, health and wellbeing programs are on the rise and the same trend can be seen in recent times within India as well. In last couple of years, organizations in India have also gone ahead with various employee centric benefits and this will continue further as a part of employee engagement and retention.

While organizations in India typically follow statutory rules for various types of leaves, many organizations are going beyond and providing additional leave benefits to its employees including paternity leaves, sabbatical leaves, additional maternity leaves or even menstrual leaves. Along with the extended paid maternity leaves, employers are also encouraging new dads to take time off with paid paternity leave. Leave during menstruation period has been a very recently discussed topic.Some of these leaves are now supported by the recent amendments in the statutes like the Maternity Benefit Act and Shop and Establishment Act.

Work-life balance was not a key agenda for many companies in India until recent times. But, since aspects like increased commuting time, long or odd working hours, nuclear families have started impacting the life of people;companies are now focusing on managing the work-life balance of their employees.

“Flexible work hours, working from home, reduced work hours, common interest groups at workplace is being introduced in many companies with an intent to allow their employees to manage their personal life and professional life well”

Revision in the Maternity Benefit Act has added the benefit of crèche facility for employees across all industries. This certainly is re-establishing employees’ sense of security, boosting their engagement in the workplace. It has been noticed that Millennials and Gen Z are more interested in such facilities and keen to maintain a proper balance in their life.

We are living in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world and this volatility and uncertainty is a creating a lot of negative pressure on the mental and physical health of employees. There has been a considerable increase in the number of employees not able to manage the stress, going through depression, having heart or sugar trouble at young age or having weight control issues. The impact is also seen on the personal life as well like, increase in divorce cases, infertility issues etc.

To help employees in coping up with such problems, companies have started various benefits like EAP (Employee Assistance Program), in-house Gym facility or tie up with external Gym facilities, preventive health check-ups, voluntary insurance benefits, etc. Some companies are allowing their employees to spare time for meditation or Yoga during the work hours at least once in a week. Services like EAP help employees to deal with the stressful situations and handle other personal issues with better control. To support parents in all stages, some employers are even offering support during fertility treatment and adoption. As the medical and insurance costs are increasing, employees’ are expecting enrolment of family into various corporate insurance benefits or at least at a discounted rate.

The very recent trend of digitalization of all HR processes for enhanced employee experience, also encompasses benefits especially health related benefits. Have seen an insurance company giving discounts in the premium to its corporate customers, basis their health records. And this health record will be monitored through an mobile App. The more you exercise, the more discount you get. Another company is helping companies and employees to manage their insurance records through mobile application including claim processing. EAP services are also available on a phone or mobile App. Such services and applications not only add convenience to employees but, also provides greater transparency.

Some companies are allowing customization of benefits, where employees can choose from a bouquet of benefits as per their need. This also includes flexibility to make changes whenever required. Allowing employees for choice and flexibility can get more value from their benefit programs.Some other interesting ideas have also been seen globally like allowing pets at work place or allowing employees to take a power nap, opening a salon or a spa within premises, paying allowance for having a good sleep at night. And now with the entry of more and more Gen Z in the industry, such ideas will continue to pop up.

All these benefits are now becoming a part of EVP (Employee value Proposition) where companies are eager to showcase their employees and candidates what they are giving beyond a fixed and variable compensation. Such policies and practices are also becoming a judging factor of employee engagement and best places to work initiatives. However, implementation of any discretionary program has to be validated from a cost and return point of view. And the priority has to be given to design and strategize the plan to manage the cost better but, influence the employee behavior in a positive manner.

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Prasad Kulkarni, Vice President - HR Operations at Accelya. He has over two decades of experience across Manufacturing, IT/ ITeS, BFSI industries. Has an extensive experience of leading HR Operations & Shared Services, Compensation & Benefits and HR Technology functions. Has worked in multicultural environment for global delivery models & collaborated across geographies. He was associated with companies like Fleetguard, HSBC, Bank of Newyork Mellon, Raymond and now leads the global HR Operations at Accelya.


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