With the rising cost of living, low interest rates, and costs such as utility bills and food prices on the increase, it’s no surprise that many workers feel they have less disposable income (recent figures from the Office for National Statistics back this up). In reality this means that employees cannot afford to miss out on making the most of the financial benefits that their employers provide: but research from Close has shown that many are not making the most of what’s on offer.

The research found that around one in six businesses describe the uptake of benefits in their company as ‘low’, despite a large majority (71%) providing for example valuable benefits such as a pension, and 36% providing bonuses, two benefits which employers know are of most interest to their employees.

Despite low uptake, more than four in five (83%) of the companies affected admit they haven’t taken any action to get their workers more engaged with the benefits on offer.

Among companies with a low uptake almost half (47%) said that this is an issue because staff would be more motivated if they made use of the benefits offered – showing that employers do appreciate the positive effect benefits can have on staff morale and retention.

Despite the range of benefits on offer, fewer than one in 10 companies suffering from low uptake offer financial education to communicate these benefits and to help their workers make the most of them for their own financial planning. However, financial education could offer the solution. The choices and the legislation surrounding benefits can be complicated, and without unbiased information and expert guidance, individuals may miss opportunities, make inappropriate decisions and suffer as a result. Financial education is a cost-effective way to help employees to make the most of their benefits, plan their financial futures and also cope better in hard economic times such as those we are currently experiencing. Good use of benefits should ultimately work in favour of both employer and employee – provided the right support is given alongside them.

Jeanette Makings, Director - Financial Education Services, Close Brothers

Jeanette joined Close in 2000 and has held a number of roles including heading up our marketing team, prior to her current role leading the team that works with employers to deliver our financial education services.

Against the backdrop of the growing importance that many employers now place around employee engagement, Jeanette has expanded and enhanced our financial education services enabling more employers to access them and so differentiate their employee offering and demonstrate the value they place on developing and supporting their people.