HR professionals in large UK enterprises tend to overestimate employee satisfaction when it comes to rewards and benefits programmes, new research by Hawk Incentives finds.

Comparing perceptions between HR departments and the general workforce, the survey found that just around half of employees (52%) stated they are happy with the benefits offered by their company. At the same time, the average HR-professional (77%) said its workforce was markedly happier with its benefits package, ranking at 7 or above on a ‘happiness scale’ from 1 to 10.

The extensive report “Pulling the benefits lever: Closing the gap between HR expectations and employee satisfaction” is based on a survey of 103 HR professionals and 500 employees, which was conducted by independent market research company Sapio Research and commissioned by Hawk Incentives, a leader in corporate benefit and reward solutions.

It revealed the challenges that HR departments face in ensuring that the benefits and incentives they offer are relevant and applicable to a diverse workforce. Almost half of employees (44%) agreed with the claim that their company does not understand the real needs and wishes of its workforce, while 62% of employees said their employers’ rewards and incentives programmes are not applicable to them.

Revealing further differences, 59% of employees disagreed with the claim that their company regularly surprised them with new incentives and benefits programmes, with this figure ranging notably between 15% for entry level compared with 41% for Director level employees.

Taking a look at the impact of specific benefits on employee acquisition, 69% of HR professionals said they still felt that classic benefits such as a private healthcare scheme would be a powerful pull factor. But only 47% of employees agreed that it would be a strong factor in their decision to work for a company. In response to the same question, 52% of employees and 57% of HR leaders agreed that on the spot rewards like prepaid shopping cards can have a strong impact. This is in line with the finding that a clear majority (77%) of employees across all ages and levels of seniority said they wanted more benefits that help them cut the cost of their everyday life.

“What this research shows is that HR leaders’ are now actively deploying their rewards and incentives programme to help them achieve their business goals”, said Heather Rogers, Senior Sales and Marketing Director at Hawk Incentives. “But simply offering a range of rewards is not enough – we know that the real results come from fine tuning your packages to reflect the current needs and wishes of your people, as they progress in their careers and personal lives.”

The full report can be accessed and downloaded for free at: