A survey undertaken by consultancy Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing (Howden) highlights that the majority of employers are not yet providing a strong employee benefits foundation to support the core needs of their workforce.

The research – which was undertaken in December 2020 – suggests that almost 2 in every 3 employers (63%) don’t yet offer the four major elements that Howden considers essential to provide protection and practical assistance to all employees and their dependents.

In addition to the workplace pension that all employers must provide, Howden defines the four “core” benefit areas that good employers should always aim to offer as:

  • Life assurance
  • Income protection
  • Access to private health professionals & treatments
  • Financial wellbeing support

Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Howden says;

“The last 12 months has been a period of unprecedented health crisis and associated personal financial risks, and should act as a massive wake-up call to employers in all sectors to revisit their core employee benefits to ensure that they provide adequate protections and reassurance to all workers and their families when the need arises.”

Howden points out that employers and employees might have to live with the longer term impact of COVID-19, and possibly other epidemics too.  Herbert continued;

“Whilst it is certainly true that the COVID-19 “R” rate is now largely in retreat – and that the vaccination programme is making significant inroads towards protecting the UK population – employers should be under no illusion that this threat is neutralised.  The reality is that COVID-19 is now largely endemic in the UK population, so the likelihood of the nation and its employers achieving a true “Zero-COVID” strategy looks rather remote.  It follows that employers will have to find a way to co-exist with COVID-19 with only minimal risks to their organisation, its workforce, and their dependents in the months and years ahead.

It’s also worth highlighting that the number of infectious diseases across the globe has been rising over the last century, and that there have been many significant threats in the last 20 years alone.  So establishing a benefits package that helps protect workers against these future unknowns is clearly a sensible step for all employers to take as we emerge from the current restrictions.”

 Howden suggests that as well as a workplace pension, all workers – regardless of status – should be provided with Group Life Assurance cover, Group Income Protection support, a suitable healthcare plan, and Financial Wellbeing support as base-level benefits offering in the 2020s and beyond.

Herbert concluded:

“The four core protections that we have highlighted will provide a welcome level of reassurance and security to employees in these increasingly uncertain times, and can be enhanced with further options and additions to create a more compelling benefits offering as required by the sponsoring employer. 

 COVID-19 has demonstrated just how fragile all our lives and livelihoods can be, and workers will look far more favourably on employers that aim to provide at least the four cornerstones of employee benefits as an automatic component of their future remuneration package.” 



For more information about the range of Employee Benefits services available please visit the Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing website:  www.howdengroup.com/uk-en/cover/employee-benefits-and-wellbeing-consulting

Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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