SMEs create surge in demand for employee benefits

Results of the 2021 Employee Benefits and Workplace Satisfaction Survey from financial wellbeing provider Drewberry found that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were responsible for a huge surge in demand for new employee benefits types last year.

According to the data, nearly half (47.4) introduced additional employee benefits during 2020 – mainly in response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The most popular benefits offered by SMEs are now flexible working from home policies (39.7%), followed by allowing flexible hours (29.4%).

The research also reveals significant increases in demand for insurances too, with 19% of SMEs now providing death in service insurance and 16.9% offering group private health insurance.

In a rare moment of synchronicity, the benefits now offered by SME employers closely tally with what employees actually want – with the top five perks desired by staff comprising flexible hours, private medical insurance (PMI), working from home options, life insurance and critical illness insurance.

Commenting on the results, Tom Conner, director at Drewberry, said: “Overall, there was a huge increase in employee demand for all insurance benefits, most likely driven by the global pandemic.” He added: “Compared to our 2019 survey, demand increased by 13% for PMI, 14% for life insurance, 17% for income protections, and a whopping 39% for critical illness cover.”

But the research also found 52.6% of employers had not introduced any new benefits at all, despite there being strong employee demand for it.

In addition, almost one-in-four workers cited inferior computer/office equipment as a main challenge to working from home.

Conner added: “If we’re going to embrace home working going forward – we find just 13.5% of workers want to go back to the office full-time – properly equipping workers is essential.”