MANY companies let their employees cash in their annual leave but few actually bother to tell their staff that the benefit is available, according to a new survey.
It found that 33 per cent of Singapore companies had not informed employees about the option, while 15 per cent said they had no intention at all of letting the workers know that holiday time can be turned into hard cash.
This was "worrying data", especially the 15 per cent, said Ms Debbie Ng, Singapore's director of benefits at consultancy Towers Watson, which carried out the survey.
Ms Ng told a briefing at the Fullerton Hotel yesterday: "You're not sharing those good things that you're giving to staff. Why? If you do, you're increasing employee understanding, which means increasing employee perception and will make them want to stay with you even more."
Ms Ng believes companies should improve their communication, given that 33 per cent of Singapore firms spend between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of total payroll on benefits while 3 per cent spend 40 per cent or more.
These include annual leave and dental insurance and gym membership.
Ms Ng said: "Singapore companies that spend more than 20 per cent of their payroll on benefits, that is a lot of money. So companies have to think about whether it is sustainable in the long term."
The survey also found that only 16 per cent of Singapore employers believe their benefits are highly valued by staff.
Ms Ng added: "For the same companies spending so much money, less than half are being valued by employees. There is a big mismatch."
These findings mirror those recorded across the region.
About 37 per cent of firms spend between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of their payroll on benefits while 3 per cent spend 40 per cent or more.
Yet only 15 per cent of bosses across the region believe these benefits are highly valued by staff.
Companies are aware of the gap and know more communication is required in order to increase appreciation of benefits, said Mr Mark Whatley, Tower Watson's South-east Asia director of benefits.
"Around 60 per cent of the companies intend to improve their benefits communication over the next year, and about 40 per cent did more communication last year," he added.
Communication and administration methods are also important, Ms Ng stressed.
Mr Whatley added: "Companies need to understand what's the most effective mode of communication.
"Most companies use e-mail to some extent to communicate benefits. It works for some people but a lot of people just won't read it, or will delete it. So you need different modes for different segments of the employee population."
Companies should also constantly review their benefits strategy, as Ms Ng said: "That's the trend and if you're not doing it, you're living in the past and you are going to be left behind."
The survey was conducted in February and March with 1,066 respondents across the Asia-Pacific region - 26 per cent from Singapore - and from various industries.