According to research from Buck, a Gallagher company, in partnership with the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA), almost half (47%) of U.K. employers are planning to increase investment in their financial wellbeing and employee health benefits technology platforms as the cost-of-living crisis and growing NHS waiting lists continue to provide a cause for concern. Alongside this, the research also noted planned increased investment in global benefits (31%) and pensions and workplace savings (26%).

The report, which looks at how reward and employee benefits systems are evolving, found that 56% of the U.K. employers surveyed are planning to change their employee benefits platform over the next two years. Health and wellbeing platforms and financial wellbeing platforms lead the way, as two of the most popular areas for change selected by employers.

The research comes as the U.K. continues to deal with a prolonged cost-of-living crisis. The cost of housing, food, and other necessities are all continuing to rise, according to the latest CPIH inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics, impacting the financial wellbeing of employees across the U.K., and putting pressure on employers to act.

Analysis from the British Medical Association also shows that the number of people on NHS waiting lists has continued to climb, reaching a new high of 7.68 million this summer, putting strain on employees’ health and wellbeing. In response, demand for private medical insurance has soared, according to data from the Private Healthcare Information Network, potentially leading some businesses to improve their offerings in this area.

The research from Buck, a Gallagher company, found that the majority of businesses polled (60%) are planning on increasing their investment in benefits technologies over the next two years, with 16% planning to make a ‘significant’ increase. 45% of those polled are also planning on implementing new total reward statement technology, or changing their existing technology, suggesting that many employers are keen to display more value to their employees.

The REBA data and technology research report can be accessed here.

John Deacon, Head of Employee Benefits at Buck, a Gallagher company, comments:

“The rising cost of living in the U.K. has affected everyone and dominated press headlines. CPIH inflation has exceeded the government’s target of 2% every month since May 2021, hitting highs of close to 10% last year; its impact can’t be ignored.

“Employers have to address this and are often simply unable to offer pay rises in pace with inflation, so it’s no surprise to see that many businesses are looking for alternative ways to invest in the financial wellbeing of their employees. The same is true when it comes to health and wellbeing, and many employers are focusing on making their reward offerings fit for purpose, so that they can attract and retain the best talent in a tight labour market.

“Advances in automation and new uses for emerging technology such as AI, have driven big changes in the way that these reward programmes can be implemented and run. Cutting down on extra admin is driving efficiencies in the sector and allowing employers to deliver a more intuitive and engaging offering. There are serious challenges facing the U.K.’s workforce, but investing in their underlying benefits technology is a cost-effective way for businesses to begin to address these challenges, while also future-proofing their reward offerings.”