Irish employers could lose staff because of lack of flexibility and poor benefits

man writing note on paper

Employers in Ireland are at risk of losing employees over a lack of flexibility and unsatisfactory benefits packages, a new study has found. 

While more than eight out of 10 employees would consider changing jobs for a better salary, almost three quarters (71%) would consider moving for better job flexibility while almost two thirds (60%) would move roles to secure specific desired benefits not offered by their current employer.

The findings were uncovered in newly commissioned research for Boundless, a global employment and benefits platform headquartered in Ireland, which questioned 201 HR directors and 1,057 employees in Ireland.

For almost one third (30%) of employees, flexibility – working the hours they want, working from where they want or choosing their own benefits – doesn’t figure in their current working arrangement, and the majority (95%) say these things are important to them. 

Benefits are an issue too, with just one in 10 (13%) Irish employees happy with their employers’ current benefits package. The vast majority (94%) of employees take the benefits package into account when considering a new job and more than three quarters (78%) have previously switched jobs or would move jobs in the future in order to secure a better benefits package. 

According to employees, the top five benefits offered by their organisation are pension, flexible working, healthcare, education/training and mental health support. However the study revealed a disconnect between the benefits being offered, versus what employees desire, with a four-day working week topping the list from those surveyed. Bonuses, additional annual leave, healthcare and transport benefits are also high on employees’ wishlists, demonstrating the breadth of different benefits sought by employees according to their life circumstances and preferences.

According to Boundless, the research suggests that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to benefits – i.e. offering the same benefits package to all employees – is no longer fit for purpose, and employees are more than willing to leave a company if their benefits needs are not met. 

Fortunately, employers are now waking up to this risk – and recognising the need to change how benefits are managed in their organisation – particularly those employing overseas workers in remote-only roles. Almost half (44%) of HR directors offer a flexible benefits plan, while a further 7% would like to empower employees to manage their own benefits allowance. Almost two thirds (63%) say that they missed out on hiring good candidates overseas due to sub-optimal benefits packages and almost half (47%) would like to see benefits harmonised across all geographies. 

Dee Coakley, CEO and co-founder of Boundless, says: “In today’s hyper-competitive and increasingly global job market, it’s key that employers consider how well they are satisfying employee expectations around benefits, the areas they need to improve, and how they’re adapting to the changing requirements of a more flexible and demanding workforce. For example, only 13% currently give employees an allowance to choose their benefits as they please.”

The research also highlights the extent to which, in the aftermath of the pandemic, flexible working is now commonplace across organisations. Many employers have stepped up to support remote working, with home office equipment, mental health provision, and money towards co-working spaces or WFH bills and expenses for employees. 

Currently, two fifths (42%) of employees enjoy flexible working hours, 41% location flexibility and 14% the ability to choose their own benefits, and the study shows that employees are craving even more flexibility over both their roles and remuneration. Almost three quarters (73%) said flexible hours are important to them, while 62% prioritise location flexibility and 38% feel flexible benefits are key.