Survey reveals UK employers face increasing pressure for wage hike

18 January 2017

  • Over a third of businesses say national living wage is putting pressure on them to increase wages

  • Growing number of employers looking to improve employee benefits offering, with three quarters increasing focus on employee benefits by 2025

Research carried out by the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with JLT Employee Benefits has revealed that UK employers are coming under growing pressure to increase pay and boost their employee benefits offering to an increasingly diverse workforce.

The New Model Reward Research 2017 was carried out among 183 pay, reward and benefits specialists working across a variety of organisations and industry sectors, and looked at the challenges faced by HR managers over the coming year.

One of the key highlights of the research was the growing demand for employers to increase basic pay, with more than a third of the respondents (36%) agreeing that the national living wage was putting pressure on them to increase their base wage. Additional pressure for increased pay was also coming as a result of the minimum wage (27%), future gender pay reporting (21%) and pension lifetime allowance changes (11%).

However for many, simply increasing salaries during these challenging economic times is not a viable option, and as a result, a growing number of respondents are looking to improve their employee benefits offering, with three quarters (76%) saying there will be an increased focus on employee benefits by 2025. The respondents also recognised the challenges to employers of having to tailor their rewards offering to a much wider variety of needs as a result of a number generations now working alongside each other in the workforce. Just over a fifth (21%) said they were looking to improve benefits for today’s graduates – also known as ‘Generation Z’ – with 14% saying they would improve benefits for older workers.

The survey also highlighted that pensions were still high on the agenda for most of the respondents, with an encouraging 90 per cent offering more than the legal minimum contribution to their employees. There was also a huge rise - over 75% - in the demand for pension advice and education on pensions, possibly as a result of the influx of new pension savers created by auto-enrolment and the new freedoms at retirement for those saving into defined contribution (DC) arrangements.

Andrew Drake, Head of Reward & Benefits at JLT Employee Benefits, said: ‘It’s clear from the research that as a result of the pressure to increase pay, employers are rethinking their approach to reward and benefits, and I think we’ll see a shift towards doing more through benefits over the coming years. It is also encouraging to see that a growing number of employers are addressing the emerging demands of an increasingly diverse workforce, and understanding that the days of a ‘one size fits all’ benefits solution for employees have long gone. 

‘If they haven’t done already, my advice to employers is take a step back and rethink the way they approach reward. The current reward model needs revitalising, and there are many ways in which employers can be creative with their benefits and enhance their reward strategy, which will ultimately help to improve productivity and employee retention.

Debi O’Donovan, director at REBA, said:  ‘Changes in legislation, demographic shifts and economic pressures such as the rise in student debt will resulting reward strategies shifting over the next 10 years to meet new needs. Our research shows how the increase in agile working and the ageing workforce, for example, mean reward professionals cannot simply keep doing things ticking over. Now is a good time to look forward and reassess whether your reward strategy will support your future HR and business strategies.’

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JLT Employee Benefits

Corinne Gladstone, PR Manager JLT Group | T: +44 (0)20 7895 7705 | M: +44 (0)7799 340658 | E:

Emily Cullen, Smithfield Consultants | T: 020 7903 0641 | E:


About Jardine Lloyd Thompson

Jardine Lloyd Thompson is one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services. JLT’s client proposition is built upon its deep specialist knowledge, client advocacy, tailored advice and service excellence.

JLT is quoted on the London Stock Exchange and owns offices in 41 countries with more than 10,600 employees. Supported by the JLT International Network, it offers risk management and employee benefit solutions in 135 countries.

For further information about JLT, please visit our website

About JLT Employee Benefits

JLT Employee Benefits is one of the UK’s leading employee benefit providers offering a wide range of benefit and pension services, including administration, actuarial and pension consultancy, investment, Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) and Small Self Administered Schemes (SSASs) administration, flexible benefits, healthcare, benefit communication and financial education.     

JLT Employee Benefits employs over 2,200 professionals throughout the UK and in 2015 had revenues of £167.4m in UK & Ireland.

Pensions and employee benefits companies within the JLT Employee Benefits group of companies include: JLT Benefit Solutions Ltd, Profund Solutions Limited, JLT Wealth Management Limited, JLT Investment Management Limited and Independent Trustee Services Limited. JLT Employee Benefits is part of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc.

About REBA

The Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) is for employers offering reward and benefits as part of an HR strategy to engage talent and drive success. We share intelligence, experience and ideas to help members save time, money and effort whilst pursuing best practice and developing their professional careers.

REBA runs regular conferences and networking events and produces regular in-depth benchmarking research and insight reports for reward and benefits managers.

For further information about REBA, please visit

Corinne Gladstone
PR Manager +44 (0)20 7895 7705