Flexible working tops list of most desired benefits for SME employees

flexible working

Flexible working tops the benefits wishlist for employees at UK small to medium enterprises (SMEs), according to a study by financial adviser Drewberry.

Some 42% of respondents to the survey, which polled 1,000 workers, said flexible hours were the most desired benefit, while 29% valued work-from-home options the highest.

Insurance also proved popular among SME employees. Nearly a third (31%) of respondents chose private medical insurance as their favourite benefit, while life insurance (29%), income protection (23%) and critical illness cover (22%) also ranked highly.

A quarter (25%) of respondents said their employer currently offers them flexible hours, while 13% said they had work-from-home options. They survey revealed pensions as the most widely offered benefit (72%).

Half (48%) of respondents said they were planning to change jobs in the next 12 months. Salary (67%) tops the list of factors that workers said they would take into consideration when choosing their next role. Benefits and perks were cited as a key attraction by 29%, behind work hours (60%), location (57%), work environment (43%) and potential job satisfaction (32%).

Nadeem Farid, head of employee benefits at Drewberry, said: “While the survey found that a considerable majority of people were happy in their jobs, this didn’t stop workers looking to move jobs in the next year.

“Among those unhappy in their jobs, 57% said it was down to a lack of recognition for their efforts. The overall results of the survey show there are a number of underlying issues in play here and if left unaddressed, SME bosses may find it difficult to attract and retain key employees in 2019 due to increasing labour market tightness.”

More than half (55%) of SME workers said they agreed or strongly agreed to regularly feeling stressed. Of those, 59% said they were worried about money and 44% were stressed about work.

Victoria Slade, independent protection expert at Dewberry, said: “The high levels of stress seen among the UK’s SME workforce is concerning, especially given that it’s such a big contributing factor to sickness absence.”