International trends in employee benefits

25 September 2014

The Federation of International Employers has published a review of international trends in the provision of benefits in kind.

The report says:


Major companies have frequently relied on employee benefits to give extra edge to recruitment and retention. But what kind of benefits interest people and are they growing or falling in popularity? A quick search of FedEE’s own data and Google Trends (in native languages, as well as English) gives us a revealing insight into such questions.

The list of benefits is almost endless. The core still exists in the highly visible forms such as company cars, pensions, flexible working and additional leave arrangements. Company cafeterias and luncheon vouchers have lost their attractiveness across much of the developed world, and sports/fitness benefits have proliferated beyond sponsored football teams and on-site fitness centres to more exotic pursuits like scuba diving and rock climbing.

The appeal of different benefits is also greater in some countries than others. Car allowances are valued by employees more in the UK, South Africa and Australia whilst life insurance schemes are more a feature of employment in India, the USA and Botswana. Company healthcare insurance has greatest perceived value in countries lacking generous state-funded healthcare. It is therefore most popular in the USA, India, the Philippines and Malaysia.

The popularity of employee benefits as a reward issue is stable across the Spanish speaking world, but declining in China (where Google has albeit weak data) and increasing in the Russian Federation. Of particular interest in Russia are benefits such as paid parental leave. By contrast, the popularity of this benefit has always been high and its interest level stable in Japan.

Companies will continue to be innovative in this field – although there are few signs that one benefit given to FedEE staff has caught on. We always give employees their birthday off – or if it falls on a non-working day, the next available day. This highly personalized benefit is easy to introduce and much valued by staff – especially if accompanied by a card from colleagues and a present from the company. If I was a corporate employee the benefit I would most appreciateis a private concierge service giving me the luxury of having someone to pick up my dry cleaning, renew my season ticket or remember special birthdays with a card. The only thing to beat that is lunch every day on a perpetually golden, sunny beach.