A third of employees at UK SMEs do not receive any workplace benefits

Anthony Vollmer

Just over a fifth (22%) of UK employees say that their employer does not provide any employee benefits; this increases to 34% for employees working at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to research by Moorepay.

The engaged employer, a report which surveyed 2,053 employees and 556 employers in the UK, including 334 businesses with between one and 250 staff, also found that for employees working at SMEs, financial bonuses and incentives are the most popular benefit, valued by 30% of respondents.

Other benefits that are popular with SME employees include pension contributions that go above minimum statutory requirements (27%), flexible or remote working (26%), a four-day working week (24%) and performance-based leave (10%). Around 15% view life insurance or critical illness insurance as an important benefit, while 9% value holiday trading schemes and 8% want free or subsidised travel.

A fifth (22%) of employees at SME businesses stated that their employer organises team social events, while 10% have a socialising space within the workplace, such as a games room.

The majority (87%) of SME employers agree that in 2019, staff are looking for more than just generous pay packets; however, 30% feel that ‘soft’ benefits have minor to no importance in attracting and retaining staff. For example, 21% of these employers would not consider introducing financial incentives or bonuses, 19% do not plan to implement flexible or remote working and 27% are not thinking about offering an employee assistance programme (EAP) for staff. This could link to the fact that 64% of SMEs are finding it hard to retain staff.

A third (34%) of British employees do not feel valued by their employer; this falls to 27% for staff employed at SME organisations.

Anthony Vollmer (pictured), managing director at Moorepay, said: “For all the popularity of new types of benefits and ways of working, traditional financial rewards like bonus pay and generous pension schemes still hold the most appeal for [employees]. But people want different things at different ages, life stages, and depending on their lifestyle. So it is vital that benefits packages are relevant to employees, of value to them, and simple to manage from both sides.

“Business owners and managers have to consider the financial and time costs of benefits programmes and weigh them against the rewards they can generate, in terms of employee satisfaction, engagement, loyalty and productivity. Historically, SMEs have been put off providing many benefits because of the belief they are time-consuming and cumbersome to manage. While this may have been true in the past, today’s technology platforms allow employee benefits programmes to be implemented and managed easily by time-pressed owners, senior managers, and employees.

“Of course, employee benefits are just one tactic in the battle to recruit and retain the best people but, if devised and managed properly, they can help businesses deliver a great employee experience and reap the rewards of happy, loyal and motivated workforces.”