HR Insights
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April 17, 2024

New research: Now isn’t the time to cut employee benefits

The latest Pulse of Talent research from Dayforce provides a glimpse into the importance of employee benefits for today’s workers and why employers should avoid cutting them. Dayforce’s SVP of Global Total Rewards discusses these findings and what they mean for employers. 


How’s the economy? Over the past few years, the answer to that question has seemingly changed from one day to the next. Recession predictions dominate the headlines only to fade away. Jobs and hiring data seesaw. And it all varies depending on where you are in the world or even where you are in a country. 

Understandably, this uncertainty has been difficult for employers. And many have responded by battening down the hatches in preparation for a coming storm.  

Employees have experienced these preparations in a number of ways. But for many, whose employers are looking to cut costs and trim budgets, it has meant losing valued employee benefits and initiatives.  

In the 14th Annual Pulse of Talent survey from Dayforce, we see just how important benefits are to today’s workers. And with new post-pandemic expectations of their employers, workers aren’t willing to just accept cuts to valued employee benefits. There are consequences.  

To illuminate these findings, we asked Brian Goldberg, SVP of Global Total Rewards at Dayforce, to share his thoughts on the data, how employers can meet evolving employee expectations, and what he sees trending in the benefits space. Let’s dive into his responses. 

Over the past few years, there have been big changes in what employees expect of their employers. How have you seen this playing out in the benefits space? 

Today’s workers demand a new social contract, expecting more from their employers than ever before. These expectations – like flexible work, recognition, company culture, and career opportunities, to name a few – have become much bigger drivers in an employee’s decision to stay at a job.  

In our latest Pulse of Talent survey, respondents ranked flexibility for personal responsibilities or illness (68%), flexible schedules (63%), and career development opportunities (59%) as the benefits that are most important to them. These findings are critically important for employers to consider as they look to retain and motivate employees at a time when turnover is expected to rise

Despite these increased expectations, we see in our 14th Annual Pulse of Talent survey that many employers are cutting benefits offerings and initiatives. What do you make of these findings? 

In the findings, we see some specific ways employers are scaling back on benefits and organizational initiatives from pre-pandemic levels, with respondents reporting that career development opportunities (14% decrease), flexibility for personal responsibilities (9% decrease), and DEI initiatives (8% decrease) were most likely to have to have been cut. 

Work-life balance also appears to be dwindling, with only 41% of respondents saying their work schedule fits into their life very or extremely well. 

The findings reveal the hard decisions about spending that today’s employers are having to make in high-inflation times. And benefits, perks, and related initiatives are often first on the chopping block when economic conditions are a challenge for organizations.  

But as difficult as these decisions are for employers, it can be an even harder pill for employees to swallow. And employers must recognize this and work to mitigate it to lessen the negative effects to the organization. 

What are the consequences for employers of these benefits cuts? And what can organizations do to minimize the impacts? 

Sixty-one percent of the workers we surveyed from around the globe said losing a benefit they enjoyed or needed would cause them to be less loyal to their employer and 59% said it would affect how much effort they put in at work. These are significant consequences for employers.  

Organizations can’t drive performance and growth if they have a revolving door of employees or if their employees aren’t motivated. But they also have to contend with today’s budget realities when looking at their benefits offerings. 

I think this is a perfect opportunity for organizations to survey their workers on what benefits they like and use the most. Employers might be surprised to learn that a costly benefit is going unused or that an offering is more popular than they previously thought. They can then use this data to better align with what employees want while still staying in budget. 

What benefits trends do you see on the horizon? 

On-demand pay isn’t new, but I do see it catching on more in the year ahead. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. As more employees can get their pay the same day they earn it, they’ll tell their friends and family. And as those individuals inquire about why they don’t get paid the same way, it will put pressure on more employers to investigate and adopt on-demand pay to remain competitive in the talent market. 

I think we’re also going to see more of a move away from one-size-fits-all benefits. The cookie cutter view of employee benefits will be replaced with one that recognizes individuality. Offerings will include more specialized providers that serve a specific need – things like fertility, women’s health, diabetes, and others. This targeted approach will do more to improve employee wellness, which has a tremendous upside for employees and employers alike. 

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