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Corporate India struggles to improve employee benefits

Bengaluru: Companies are struggling to keep up with various benefits programs for the well-being of their employees amid persistently high inflation, a tough business environment, and slowdown in the economy, a new survey shows.

The 2023 Benefits Trends Survey by advisory, broking, and solutions company WTW has identified rising costs, competition for talent, and flexible work arrangements as the top three issues influencing employee benefits strategy.

Employers are facing a range of challenges, including rapidly rising benefit costs and difficulties in the ability to engage, attract and retain key talent, said the report shared exclusively with ET.


“To mitigate rising costs, we see many employers looking to secure additional funding for benefits programs as well as improve the terms of vendor contracts,” said Vinod VK, head of health and benefits India at WTW.

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“Some are looking to increase employees’ share of the cost, and some may be reducing the generosity of benefits programs overall,” he said.

As many as 43% respondents of the survey – which covered more than 360 employers in the country – said persistently high inflation is a challenge, while 40% said the weakening economy and business environment are impacting their benefits budgets.

India’s retail inflation surged to 4.8% in June after hitting a 25-month low of 4.2% in May on an annual basis, according to data released by the statistics ministry.

Companies had rolled out multiple benefits for employees in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, including enhanced insurance cover and free consultations and other initiatives to help deal with various mental health issues amid health concerns, initiation of work from home, job losses, and in many cases loss of loved people.

With a mental health crisis, issues around the cost of living and the accelerating focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns, India Inc is seeing multiple challenges in steering the right course on benefit strategy, the WTW report said.

Companies are now paying greater attention to cost management, and looking to use benefits more effectively to drive attraction and retention of talent, Vinod said.


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