SMEs are struggling to attract and retain staff, according to new research from MetLife UK. Bosses companies employing between 50 and 300 staff say attracting talent is a bigger challenge than growing profits or improving workflow.
The only issue that was a bigger concern to these SMEs was uncertainty over Brexit.
Companies are split over the reasons why they find it hard to recruit and retain staff. A total of 37 per cent blamed competition in general. But nearly a third (29 per cent) of those running SMEs say their benefits package puts potential employees off, while the same number say they lose out to bigger firms, the MetLife UK study found.
The benefits effect is particularly acute for companies employing between 50 and 99 staff, with 35 per cent saying this is why they lose out on new recruits.
MetLife’s study found more than half of firms (55 per cent) say they would value help from consultants on how to attract new staff; but just 36 per cent will go ahead with seeking help in the next 12 months. A total 19 per cent say they could not afford this support.
MetLife UK employee benefits director Adrian Matthews says: “SME owners and managers are coping with a wide range of issues and increasingly value specialist support with business challenges which are outside their areas of expertise.
“Well-designed benefits packages can play a major role in enhancing the value proposition for would-be employees, but SME owners do need support in establishing which benefits to provide and then in ensuring employees value them. They also need to know how to do so in a cost-effective manner.
“Group life and group income protection are benefits that employees value and cost much less than employers often think – for example around 0.5 per cent of salary for income protection and 0.2 per cent of salary for life cover.”
“It is encouraging that so many firms are considering investing in support but at the same time too many companies are put off asking for help because they do not believe they can afford it.”
In contrast MetLife’s research found around two-fifths (39 per cent) of SMEs plan to access support on adapting to new technology over the next 12 months, while 36 per cent will ask for help on improving productivity. Around 29 per cent are looking for help in sourcing debt finance.
MetLife is focused on expanding its business among large corporates including multi-national clients as well as SMEs and enhancing strategic partnerships with leading brokers and EBCs.