24 January 2018Analysis

SME take-up is top priority for employee benefit consultants

Nearly two-thirds of employee benefit (EB) consultants believe that closing the EB gap for small and medium-sized enterprises is the biggest priority for growth in the market, according to research from MetLife UK.

60 percent of consultant agree the increasing take-up and penetration of employee benefits is the key challenge for the industry over the next two years.

According to the UK Government's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, small businesses account for 99.3 percent of all private sector enterprise, employing 15.7million people or 60% of all private sector employment.

46 percent of employee benefit consultants believe that SMEs are to increase their demand for bespoke benefits programmes tailored specifically to individual requirements.

SME requirements for flexible benefits provision was cited by 60 percent of consultants as the main area of demand growth, and 41 percent believe voluntary benefits will be a category seeing significant SME demand increase.

Consultants also believe that better benefits communication will be central to SME's future needs.

39 percent of brokers cited better benefits communication as an SME demand focus.

Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK said: “SMEs are the life-force of British business with a combined annual turnover was £1.8 trillion2, nearly half of all private sector turnover,” said Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director at MetLife UK.

“Smaller employers are increasingly aware of the need to attract and retain a skilled, motivated workforce, especially where they may not be able to compete with larger businesses on pay or business profile. Well-tailored benefits that are well-communicated can make a significant difference to SME staff retention and employees will welcome support in improving physical health and wellness as well as financial wellness in the workplace.”

Matthews continued: “Fast growth businesses, often in the technology sector are growing from two to 200 employees in months rather than years, going from a ‘no benefits’ environment to needing to provide benefits in a short period. One of the issues preventing SMEs from adopting workplace benefits may be the absence of a dedicated HR function or one individual completing multiple HR tasks.  The role of the broker or EBC is vital in helping SMEs select the right benefits packages for their growing and diverse workforces.”

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