Benefit analysis: The pandemic reshaped the benefits industry in 2020. Employees have chosen digital benefits and solutions that provide them extra security
The pandemic reshaped the benefits industry in 2020 – a year of radical change on all fronts, with an impact on business and personal life.
Companies and employees had to adapt to remote work and a high demand for digital benefits that fit a new set of multiple employee needs and challenges. Meal vouchers, gifts (represented by gift cards to over 100 retailers in various industries), domestic tourism (accessed through holiday vouchers), medical services (for employees and relatives) and private pensions (pillar III) are the main 5 benefits flexible chosen by employees, in 2020, according to the annual analysis Benefit, an Edenred company, on the extra-salary benefits industry in Romania, which is in its 4th edition.
According to findings, the budgets allocated by companies in 2020 for employee benefits have slightly increased . Thus, if in 2019 the gross monthly budget offered to each employee for flexible benefits was approximately 390 lei, last year, the monthly average exceeded 400 lei. Employees directed 75% of their budgets towards tax-exempt benefits in whole or in part.
The analysis takes into account data from over 215,000 employees nationwide, from industries such as Call-center & BPO, IT & Software, manufacturing, retail, services, financial services, etc., which used the flexible benefits solution Benefit at the end of 2020 .
“The direct and associated effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be a major issue in the country’s human resources departments, affecting every component of the workplace, including extra-salary benefits. In the last year, in Romania, the interest for digital benefits has increased among all categories of employees, choosing products and solutions that they can access immediately and that offer them extra security. Thus, they took advantage of the benefits related to online purchases, medical services for employees and their families, but also holidays in Romania “, says Stelian Bogza, co-founder of Benefit.
In 2020, the subscriptions to sports, transport, professional trainings recorded the largest decreases in the top of the platform’s preferences, as a direct consequence of the prevention measures imposed by the authorities in the COVID-19 pandemic.
On average, employees spent 200 lei to purchase a flexible benefit in the Benefit platform. In large numbers, employees accessed the facility offered by the platform to accumulate budgets received from the employer for several months and also used personal funds for some benefits that can be paid in this way.
The most commonly purchased non-deductible benefit was the gift card at stores in various industries.
Fixed benefits remained in 2020 the first choice for most employers.
They offered deductible benefits such as meal vouchers, within the limit of a meal voucher / working day (the maximum nominal value is currently 20.01 lei), gift vouchers offered on special occasions (March 1, 1 June, Easter, Christmas), holiday vouchers (granted up to 6 minimum gross salaries / year / employee, offered exclusively in digital format), cultural vouchers (which benefit from 0% taxes for the employer and 10% income tax for employee and can be granted monthly with a maximum value of 160 lei / employee or occasionally in the amount of 320 lei / event).
“The Benefit platform strengthens Edenred’s offer since 2019 and allows our corporate clients to streamline their HR policies and increase their attractiveness, with a wide range of fully customizable benefit programs to suit the needs of each employee. Overall, the recent context has significantly contributed to the customization and improvement of packages offered by companies, which adapt their offer to the specifics and needs of the teams. In addition to the emergence of new benefits – from budgets for adapting the workspace at home, to days off for parents and online counseling for employees – last year, companies that provide fixed benefits understood to come to the aid of employees and offered them more many solutions with the maximum deductible face value, helping to increase their purchasing power “, says Cătălin Olteanu, commercial director of Edenred Romania.