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2024 Employee Benefits market outlook

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​Employee Benefits continue to play an integral role in talent attraction and retention, and with economic uncertainties continuing to affect business costs, it’s never been more important for businesses to invest in what truly matters. Ashlea Walton, Client Director shares her views on just this, plus changes in the market, how businesses can adapt to attract high performing professionals and in-demand roles and skills.

What specific trends have you seen in your market?

The need for employers to offer a way to attract and retain employees, contributing towards improving wellbeing and enhancing staff engagement has increased over the years. 2023 was busier than it’s ever been since launching our Employee Benefits division 10 years ago and it’s extremely exciting to see that many of our clients are now outperforming pre-pandemic figures, delivering double digit growth and are recruiting in volume to manage the ever-growing demand for their services.

Over the last year, there’s been an increased number of opportunities secured with leading global businesses and established regional firms, who will continue to engage with high performing individuals throughout 2024.

The market this year, is strongly focused on consolidation with a number of key mergers and acquisitions happening, as firms look to accelerate growth and their offering across the wider market. Naturally this encourages movement amongst competitors with some excited by the changes / opportunities to come and others looking for a more “stable” environment.

What factors have affected talent attraction and retention in the past 12 months?

Attracting top-performing candidates in this market will always be a challenge but not impossible with the right recruitment process and strategy.

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift from those focusing solely on financial incentives towards total remuneration and non-financial aspects such as culture, flexibility and growth opportunities. Whilst there’s still a focus on this, I’ve noticed more candidates engaging with me looking to increase salary alone, driving the issue of increased counter-offers which is not only hugely unproductive during a recruitment process, also very damaging for a candidate's brand.

Not paying in line with the market is now a huge threat to firms since people who ordinarily wouldn’t have looked to move, are now moving.

Which roles are most likely to be in demand in 2024 and why?

Group risk, healthcare and wellbeing consultants will continue to be a sought-after skillset throughout 2024 and I’ve taken on and filled more of these roles than any other year, to date.

As the UK continues to live in a cost-of-living crisis, there’s increased emphasis on benefits which will help to relieve some of the financial burdens employees are facing. Cover Magazine published an article where Bupa conducted a survey of 8000 people; Health insurance was ranked as the most sought-after employee benefit. Their research showed that employee discounts (36%) and free lunches (25%) also scored highly, reflecting the impact of ever rising living costs.

There’s no one size fits all approach to benefits, I’m seeing more clients trying to implement creative solutions to some of the challenges the UK workforce is facing. Bupa’s research also found that 42% of respondents with health and wellbeing benefits have used them in the last 12 months – a figure which I’m sure will continue to rise.

What skills are in-demand for professionals wanting to work in this market?

Health and benefits will continue to be an in-demand skillset, with clients focusing on those from a solutions focused, consultative background to support the increased drive for internal collaboration. New business skillsets will continue to be sought after but a hard to secure skillset, as businesses look to capitalise on increased scope within the market to provide benefits advice.

What do clients and professionals need to be aware of in 2024?

I’ve seen a real increase in the number of roles coming through where employers are trying to return to pre-pandemic ways of working with many looking to get people back into the office two to three days a week.

During 2020, firms were forced into trialling new home working patterns which created many benefits for both professionals and clients. The rise in flexibility allowed employers to increase their talent pool and as a result professionals had access to a wider range of opportunities. Finding the right balance between employee collaboration and flexibility in a candidate driven market, is key. People have different priorities now and have seen the benefits of an improved work life balance.

These flexible packages are designed to improve an employee’s work / life balance, creating better levels of job satisfaction, engagement and ultimately higher performance. Additionally, the global drive towards diversity and equality in the workplace has meant that part time or flexible working is now a regular offering from firms. Those who are unable to continue with the same levels of flexibility are likely to reduce their candidate pool and lose out on top performing individuals against their competitors.

About Ashlea

Ashlea is an experienced Financial Services Consultant with 10 years’ experience sourcing top performing talent for a range of businesses. She leads our Employee Benefits division and manages strategic relationships with our key clients across the UK to ensure we’re providing a high level of service and efficiency to our valued recruitment partners. She specialises in placing mid-senior Employee Benefits professionals across the UK.

Ashlea prides herself on a bespoke, quality driven service which she provides to all of her clients and candidates. With a decade of experience, she’s built an extensive network across the Benefits market with an excellent track record amongst clients and candidates.

For advice on the Employee Benefits market, support with your hiring strategy or guidance on finding a new role, contact Ashlea.