SMEs can provide ‘employee benefits’ just like the big boys Once the domain of big corporate organisations, today, thanks to the growth of small specialist consultancies and cloud-based online services, SMEs across the UK can now offer comprehensive benefits packages to their employees – with minimum cost, admin and fuss. And after salaries, perks are a key factor in attracting talented people to join your business plus helps retain then. What’s more it’s often not about ‘tangible’ benefits but more about a caring / sharing culture that motivates staff.

The first decision for any SME is to decide what benefits are right for you and where you buy them from? A pension is now a mandatory requirement for all businesses but many SMEs are still ‘holding off’ implementing an auto enrolment scheme but will have to do so over the next year or so at the latest or risk severe penalties and fines – and eBOS is able to assist you here (see our auto enrolment page). Small firms also have the same duty of care as large employers to look after employee well being, both physical and mental – an issue that Government is increasingly taking an interest in.

Mental health issues for example have been increasingly reported in the media over recent months. A number of independent surveys have collectively reported that an average of a third of UK employees say their working environment has a negative impact on their mental health and over half of the employees polled also felt that their workplace did not manage mental health issues well. Access to employee support services, like telephone counsellors, can have long term benefits for any SME as they can help staff cope better with stress and so remain productive within the workplace.  Providing access to such services also helps reduce absence levels – again an important factor and benefit to any small business.

Selecting the right benefits is also important. Gimmicks like dress down days, fancy free lunches, or recreational sports facilities like table football may appeal to a few people but any employer really needs to focus on the benefits that matter and deliver long-term physical and mental benefits to staff.

Training and development, flexible work hours, health care and gym membership, sabbaticals / the opportunity for more time off / early finishing on a Friday are all high on the agenda for the majority of employees. The net benefit of all of these is that employees that receive them tend to be healthier, fitter, more alert and generally happier so are therefore more productive. Many also look for solid parental benefits, paid maternity and paternity leave and childcare programmes and these can often be a deciding factor for an employee joining or remaining with you for longer.

However, offering these facilities may be a big step for some SMEs but it is important to find out about and at least consider the options rather than dismiss them out of hand – particularly the cost of implementing them may not be as costly as you may think and the rewards to the business may outweigh the returns in improved staff productivity in the long run.  Flexibility is key so if the business can’t afford to offer every kind of benefit right now, it’s better to be open about his and set out your aims for the future.

Digital online services are readably available from organisations including eBOS and often require very little input from the employer Having access to HR services that’s completely up-to-date with the latest regulations is probably the single most important service any employer can have.  Being able to call in a specialist to help advise or deal with a crisis takes much of the pressure off the Directors and can also be extremely positive for the staff.

So, you may not have the financial clout of a large business but employee motivation and engagement research regularly shows that money alone is not the only motivator.  Contact eBOS today to explore what services are available as some smart thinking about benefits and how to access them now should pay real dividends for your company when it comes to securing and retaining the best people.