Business growth in Asia has been an incredible success story, made possible by new industries and rapid urbanization. As growth starts to slow in markets like China and India, maintaining a highly productive workforce has become an additional concern for employers.

Not surprisingly, there has been significant pressure to acquire and retain talent with more employers in China and India saying they are highly challenged to hire and retain than in any other market—something our studies confirm.

Employers in China and India have tended to rely more heavily on financial compensation as the lever to encourage employees to come or stay with their organization—a strategy embraced even more so than it is in the United States where the employee value proposition takes more of a "total rewards" approach.

Our research suggests that employees in these markets are looking for more and are highly motivated by improvements in differentiated benefits and wellness programs. This is good news for employers who have the opportunity to broaden their value proposition and compete more effectively for talent both at home and globally.

Find Opportunities to Embrace Talented Employees

Like other markets, employees in these markets feel less devoted to their companies than their employers think. In fact, employee loyalty and retention may be an even bigger issue in these markets as there is a large discrepancy between how employees and employers perceive the strength of their relationships. Our studies suggest that employers have a big opportunity to better engage employees to make them more satisfied with their work.

A clear perception gap exists between Chinese employers and employees when it comes to loyalty.

Employers who say:

Our employees are loyal to our company.

Employees who say:

I feel loyal to my employer.

Employers who say:

Our company is a great place to work.

Employees who say:

My company is a great place to work.

Do Benefits Matter? Is Salary Not Enough to Win Employee's Hearts?

Yes, benefits matter!

We asked employees in China and India at risk of leaving their employer what would make them stay. Raising salary topped their list. But improving benefits packages was almost always ranked second, which was even higher when compared to other surveyed markets.

For example, there was only a 10% difference between "increase my salary" and "improve my benefits package" in China and India.

What would keep employees at their current company?

Increase my salary.

Improve my benefits package.

Are Employees Willing to Pay More for Financial Security

On average, more than half of the employees surveyed in China and India expressed a strong interest in protection products that provide financial security for their families. Employees were willing to pay more for security. For example, in India compared to other markets in Europe, demand for these products did not diminish greatly even when we asked employees if they would be happy to bear 100% of the benefits cost.                        

In India, there’s a high level of employee interest in voluntary benefits even when employees bear 100% costs.

Wellness: The Big Opportunity for Employers

A growing middle class with rising lifestyle expectations is creating a growing interest in wellness. Not surprisingly, our research shows a strong appetite for workplace wellness programs which can have a payoff for employers. Using our multiple regression models, we found that in China—more so than in other markets—the more employees value benefits, wellness programs, and supportive managers, the more committed they are to their employer.

Predicting employee commitment.

With each notch higher in the agreement that their boss is caring, or that they value their benefits and wellness programs, employees in China show a 16% increase in their commitment to their employer.

Benefits Communication: Improves Employee Understanding and Appreciation

Employees who think their benefits communications are effective are more positive about both their job and their benefits. There are opportunities to improve. For example, 53% of Indian employees admitted they needed help understanding how their benefits work. Only 50% said their benefits communications effectively educated them. It’s critical for employers to understand which communications channels will work best for their population.

Five ways you can effectively manage benefits communication:

Boost the Value of Your Benefits Package

To sustain growth over time, employers in China and India could benefit from creating a more attractive work environment—one that’s more conducive to high-performance over the long term—by offering more than just money.

The time is right to broaden their employee value proposition–to assist employees with their financial security and improve their quality of life through benefits and wellness.

For more information, please refer to our Insights to Go summaries:

China India

Or contact your account executive to discuss how we can help you with your benefits strategies.

The sources for the information and graphics included in this webpage are the Employee Benefit Trends Study surveys carried out by MetLife in the following markets: China (2015); and India (2015).