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SMES to expand employee benefits to attract staff

30 September 2019

Small and medium sized businesses plan to expand their employee benefits package in a bid to attract more staff, new research has shown.

According to MetLife UK, more than half (53%) of SMEs will increase the benefits they offer staff over the next two years. Of the 34,000 businesses polled as part of its nationwide study, 7% said they would introduce benefits for the first time while a further 46% will expand the benefits they currently offer. Around 14% of firms plan to expand their benefits substantially.

Difficulty attracting and retaining staff in the face of competition from bigger firms was the driving force behind the decision, the research found, with nearly half (49%) admitting recruitment and retention are major issues.

More than a quarter (27%) said their benefits package is not as strong as bigger firms while a similar amount (25%) said they cannot afford to pay the salaries that prospective candidates have come to expect.

To deal with the issue, SMEs are increasingly looking for support from employee benefit consultants to help them with recruitment and retention – around 46% of firms say they will look for support on how to attract talent over the next 12 months, while over two fifths (41%) want help with retention strategies.

Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director, MetLife UK, said: “Employees increasingly recognise the value of benefits and SMEs are clearly looking to respond by enhancing what they offer staff.

“Salary can be a blunt and expensive instrument and we know from our own Employee Benefit Trends Study in 2017 that in fact 55% of employees highly value the benefits on offer and that 34% would be persuaded to stay in their job if their benefits were enhanced. That is a positive for SMEs which feel they can’t compete on salary.

“A well-designed benefits package can play a major role in supporting SMEs’ recruitment and retention strategies and need not prove as expensive as many firms may believe.”