United Kingdom

Improving employee engagement is a key focus for employers: what are the key barriers?

Sarah Robson

According to Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey, despite respondents realising the importance of engagement – 98% of employers said it was important to increase employees’ understanding and engagement with benefits and/or health and financial wellbeing – just 29% have a strategy in place, likely due to barriers; these were cited as budget (49%), lack of resources (36%) and uncertainty around creating engaging communications (15%).

Other challenges cited by 25% of respondents ranged from the volume of communications employers need to handle to lack of support from management. Communication budgets remain on par with last year, with 65% spending between less than £5,000 while 4% of respondents indicated spending over £50,000.

The survey, however, identified that more employers may be taking action, as 59% stated they would be willing to increase budgets or are thinking about it to improve engagement, which is up from 42% in 2020. There is also strong support for technology and apps in aiding future engagement, as 82% of firms view these positively and less than 1% see the tools as a negative.

Seventy percent of employers said the key focus in wanting to increase their employees’ understanding of Total Reward and the value of benefits was engagement, while 42% said it was awareness and 38% reported it was important for the employee experience.

The survey also highlighted that 27% of employers do not conduct any research or ‘listen’ to employee needs to understand potential areas for improvement or implement more effective communication strategies.

We recommend understanding employee thoughts and feelings in order to develop a purposeful communication strategy that improves engagement and offers the best employee experience. Although firms use a variety of research tools such as questionnaires, pulse surveys and focus groups, new methods can complement traditional research to help employers understand peoples’ emotions. For example, neuroscience surveys bypass unconscious bias by measuring automatic reactions so employers can understand true opinions of their teams. Additionally, new technology channels also help improve the employee experience so they better understand the value of their benefits.

With the future of work becoming ever more digital and the focus on wellbeing increasing for more employers, additional spend and resources is not surprising. It remains essential, however, that employers put measures in place that allow them to accurately identify obstacles and help them understand exactly what budgets and resources are needed to reach targets.

Find out more about the Aon UK Benefits and Trend Survey 2021 and download the full report.


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