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Recruiting Top Talent: How SMEs Can Compete With Larger Corporations

As many sectors continue to grapple with acute labour shortages, businesses are increasingly looking at their ‘perks portfolio’ in order to both retain and recruit talent. For SMEs, this can offer a significant challenge as many are losing out to larger competitors.   Our Sales & Marketing Director, Mike Dickinson looks at how attractive workplace benefits need not be out of reach for smaller companies.

In a recent survey by Santander, only 35% of Gen Z and Millennials leaving full time education, wanted to work for an SME. In comparison, half aspire to working for a large corporation with a perception of better job security and progression. It’s no wonder then that SMEs are struggling to recruit and retain staff.   In fact, according to research conducted by MetLife, it is one of the biggest challenges they face, second only to the uncertainty around Brexit.

When it comes to bringing on board the best, a fundamentally strong benefits package is worth its weight in gold, with nearly over a third (35%) of SME business owners believing their benefits package is the reason they lose out to bigger companies.  It is clear that SMEs need to go the extra mile to ensure they keep attracting the people they need.  But how can they compete with the big boys when it comes to workplace benefits?

Private medical insurance has traditionally been seen as a perk reserved for those working in a large corporation. For many SMEs, the prospect of providing private medical insurance is daunting. One in ten senior managers felt they were unable to provide benefits other than workplace pensions, with lack of budget cited as the main reason, followed by the belief that their company wasn’t big enough.

However, in today’s competitive job market, SMEs need to wake up to healthcare provision as a vital recruitment tool, especially when it comes to attracting the next generation, who place emotional and physical wellness on a par, if not more important, than pensions or other workplace benefits.

Providing health insurance is actually one of the simplest but most effective steps to reward and attract talent. Health benefits also bring a wide range of benefits, like increasing productivity, boosting morale, and helping shape a positive company culture. There are many options available to businesses, but these normally come in the form of basic health benefits such as outpatient and inpatient care, additional benefits such as dental insurance, and extended benefits which include health checks and mental health support.

Over recent years, we have seen a flurry of providers who offer realistic packages for SMEs to put in place and cost much less than employers may think.

Equipsme, is a smart and super cost-effective way of providing practical Health and Wellbeing support for employees. Aimed at SMEs, Equipsme provides healthcare cover from just £7 per month. It includes Health Insurance from AXA PPP healthcare and brings together essential services such as 24/7 GP Access, optional extras such as Stress Support and ‘day one’ value with personalised Health Checks. Once a business has signed up to Equipsme, its employees can upgrade their plans for £8-£12 per month and build a healthcare package which fits their needs and their family.  Russell Scanlan is one of a select number of insurance brokers from across the UK, chosen to work with Equipsme on this ground-breaking product.

Of course, the old adage prevention is better than cure is particularly true when it comes to the importance placed on wellbeing within the workplace. Vitality offers a unique mix of great medical cover and wellness rewards designed to create a healthier, happier, more productive workforce. It offers fast access to private GPs, consultants, hospitals, high-quality treatment and a Full Cover Promise.  The Vitality Discounts and Rewards Programme helps inspire positive behavioural change and build a healthier, more engaged and productive workforce, no matter what your business size.

For SMEs, investing in a comprehensive perks portfolio is essential, offering benefits to both the business and employee. In the new normal where job openings outweigh candidate supply, SMEs have to stand out from the crowd but also protect their own assets. Private medical insurance can help reduce absenteeism, creates staff loyalty, protects profitability and improves company efficiency. Moreover, for SMEs it can help make sure the business stays on track if a key member of staff were to pass away suddenly or be able to work due to a serious illness. Of the senior managers surveyed by MetLife, more than half said sickness absence is a significant issue for their business with 20 per cent describing it is a “very significant” issue.

The advantages of providing a comprehensive healthcare package far outweigh the risks.  It is simple to put in place, boosts productivity and can be adapted as a SME grows. Engaged employees equal a productive and content workforce and good health leads to productivity. The benefits are central to attracting and retaining talent leading to business opportunities that benefit everyone.

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