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Employers are over-estimating how happy employees are at work and are risking not achieving the full value from their investment in employee benefits, according to new research.

Nearly half (46%) of firms believe their company is a great place to work compared with just 31% of staff, reveals MetLife’s UK Employee Benefits Trends Survey. The report, which has been conducted in the US for 12 years and at various times in nine other countries, also shows how highly employers rate recruitment and retention – 40% of UK companies say they will be affected by talent shortages over the next year with retaining and hiring talent key benefits challenges for employers with 41% and 37% respectively reporting these as concerns.

The recruitment and retention challenge is illustrated by the gap between employer and employee views. Some 32% of employees say they are loyal to their employer while just 22% believe their employer is loyal to them. In contrast 39% of employers’ believe their employees are loyal and 40% believe they are loyal to employees.

The report revealed a major challenge with regard to employees’ energy levels, with just 14% of UK employees surveyed saying they are bursting with energy at work – a much lower score than other countries in the survey.

The study also examined employee loyalty, and found that in the UK just 10% of employees said they were thinking of changing jobs in the next 12 months. While on the surface this is encouraging for employers, it is less positive if employees are staying put but soldiering on.

Tom Gaynor (pictured above), employee benefits director of Brighton-based life and pensions group MetLife UK, says: “There are significant differences between what employees and employers think which implies that employers are over-optimistic about the success of their employee benefits and engagement strategies.

“The risk is that employers are wasting significant time and money acting on the wrong things. The challenge is as much how to engage existing employees as it is to recruit new ones.

“Our study highlights a range of insights and steps employers can take which do not need heavy investment. Listening to employees is key as, when we look at what employers believe works and what employees say they want, there are clear differences.”

MetLife’s study highlighted key areas for employers and employee benefit providers to address including support for employees around financial concerns including planning for retirement and in the event of people becoming unable to work through illness. Other areas include practical and supportive wellness programmes to help tackle the issue of stress at work.
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