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UK SMEs face ‘Big Quit’ over employee perks, research finds

Nearly 12 million UK employees would consider leaving their employer in the pursuit of better employee benefits, according to new research.

Small businesses are particularly at risk of losing top talent as although 78% of decision makers at SME employers highlight employee benefits as key to recruitment and retention, only 37% have reassessed their benefits since the start of the pandemic.

Under a third stated that they have no plans to implement changes to their employee benefits going forward, leaving them vulnerable to disengaged employees.

Instead, 46% of the 500 SME decision makers surveyed by Unum would opt to pay bonuses, increase salaries or facilitate remote/hybrid working policies to retain staff – whereas only 16% would consider workplace benefits.

However, the tide may be beginning to turn with a subsection of SMEs. 26% of those surveyed suggested that they have, or will soon, introduce new employee benefits, with 28% confirming that they plan on surveying staff to find out the benefits they value ahead of making future changes.

These findings come as Unum’s wider research highlighted the value employees place on high-quality wellbeing benefits and workplace support amid ‘The Big Quit’.

With 40% of employees suggesting that employee benefits are a key influencing decision on whether they decide to stay with or quit – the message is that if employers underestimate the value employees place on benefits, they risk losing staff in the near term.

Among SMEs that have re-assessed their benefits offering since March 2020:

48% were prompted to do so after listening to the changing needs of their staff
21% recognised they were struggling to attract new staff with their current benefits package
20% knew their competition offered better packages

Mark Till, CEO of Unum, said: “As SMEs reassess their company offerings — including their employee benefits — to fit the changing needs of staff, they shouldn’t assume money means everything. Bonuses and pay rises are of course welcome in an environment of rising inflation, but both current employees and future recruits clearly place a value on their broader employee benefits packages that cannot be expressed in pounds and pence. Overlooking this has the real potential to put staffing levels at risk in an increasingly competitive external market.”

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UK SMEs face ‘Big Quit’ over employee perks, research finds

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