Perk up: Employee Benefits are Rising

Published on Aug 16, 2023

Updated on Sep 22, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques


The world is now slowly repairing the economical and societal damage caused by the pandemic. But post-Covid times aren’t necessarily a bed of roses for the labour market. As businesses continue to recover from the pandemic’s knock-on effects, they are also having to tackle pressing talent and skills shortages. 

The OECD has recently released its “OECD Employment Outlook 2023” annual report. It looks at employment figures, wages across countries globally, the impacts of newly popular AI technologies on jobs and skills, and - in a section which includes Lightcast data - changes in job benefits.

This blog focuses on the latest trends on employment benefits across countries - exploring the types of benefits that are now more popular, and how employers are shifting their hiring strategies to attract talent in a tight labour market. If you’re keen on exploring other OECD findings using Lightcast data, we have recently shared how AI has impacted translators - so do give it a read.

A job, anybody? 

Looking for some positive news? There is plenty in this blog, but let’s start from the beginning. Employment rates in the OECD area are now 3% higher than the pre-pandemic levels. After its peak in 2021, they have remained stable in 2022 and 2023. Interestingly though, employment for women has risen more sharply than for men. According to the report, as of May 2023, the employment rate for female workers was 1% higher than for male workers. 

The tightness of the labour market is much higher than pre-pandemic levels too, although there have been some signs of easing in the most recent months. In 2021, the peak in tightness was particularly noticeable in English-speaking countries, as well as Norway and the Netherlands. The OECD measures tightness by calculating the number of vacancies/job postings available per unemployed person.

Looking at Australia, for instance, there was close to one vacancy per unemployed person in Q4 2022, while in pre-pandemic levels (Q4 2019), there was about 0.3 vacancies per unemployed individual. The US and the UK show a similar upward trend - meaning they are particularly tight labour markets. 

Employee benefits

The premise is simple: when there is a shortage of talent and skills, employers need to roll up their sleeves and implement a new workforce approach to attract and retain talent. Perhaps the most obvious step: increasing employee wages and offering more benefits. And it’s not just about Pizza Fridays or company-branded refillable water bottles. 

Health benefits such as medical insurance and wellness programmes saw the largest increase in frequency of mentions in job postings between December 2019 and December 2022 across the UK, the US, and Canada. Looking at the graph below, we can see that the percentage share of online job postings mentioning health benefits has risen sharply, especially in the US and Canada, from about 17% to 32%, and about 4% to 19%, respectively. 

Retirement schemes have also seen a notable surge across the three countries studied, and the number of job postings offering paid time-off and sick leave also rose particularly high in the US and Canada. Overall, employers are offering more benefits to candidates than they were three years ago. 

In some OECD countries, employers are offering more benefits in job postings.

The mentions of employee benefits in online job postings have increased across sectors, but very differently. In the graph below, we see how various sectors, ordered from low-pay to high-pay (left to right), have experienced this growth (share of each benefit in the total number of mentions per sector). 

The three sectors that stand out with the largest growth in mentions of employee benefits in their job postings are administrative and support service activities, manufacturing, and finance and insurance. They sit across the whole spectrum of low to high pay, and the upward trend is seen in all three countries. In the UK, however, changes were much less noticeable. 

Mentions of employment benefits increased

Lastly, looking solely at the UK, and still measuring the time period between December 2019 and December 2022, we can see that some sectors had a steep increase in their number of online job postings (OJPs). A few industries to highlight are health care, transportation, and administrative and support. These are also some of the industries that have increased their mentions of employee benefits. 

Growth in number of UK job postings and mentions of benefits.

However, there is no direct correlation between the growth in number of OJPs and the change in relative frequency of benefits per percentage point. Industries such as professional services, finance, and education showed a solid increase in job postings (around 100%), yet they aren’t the leading industries for growth in employee benefits mentions. 

Get more global data 

Employee needs are a talking point for all organisations. As we see from this data - increasingly more employers mention employee benefits in their job postings, and the trend can be seen across countries and industries. A deeper dive into this data would tell us what specific industries and employers are offering, per country or region.  

Whether you need global, national, or regional data to conduct your own research or make strategic decisions - Lightcast offers easy-to-access data through easy-to-use products that will help you answer many of the pressing labour market questions your organisation faces. Get in touch with our team below to discuss your challenges and unlock new opportunities. 

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