It’s no secret that the UK is currently suffering from a definitive skills shortage. The skills gaps – which is the difference in skills required within a business and the actual skills the workforce has – is one of the reasons why the UK has the lowest productivity among the G7.
According to an independent study by recruitment specialist Robert Half, the skills shortage facing the UK will cost small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) £145,000 on average next year. What’s even more concerning is that figure is expected to rise to £318,000 over the next five years.
Robert Half also says that the overall talent pool is going to shrink further due to Brexit and increased digitalisation of work. It’s a reality that will come as bad news for the UK’s 5.7 million SMEs.
Some firms will introduce benefits for the first time
In an attempt to improve recruitment and retention, a significant proportion of SMEs will introduce or expand the employee benefits they offer staff. According to research by MetLife UK, more than half (53%) of SMEs will up their employee benefits initiatives to boost their chances of attracting and retaining talent.
The nationwide survey of firms employing between 50 and 300 staff found that 7% will introduce benefits for the first time, while 46% will expand on their existing offering. Around 14% of firms said they will expand their staff benefits “substantially”.
The research also found that 69% of SME owners and managers believe they have a duty to provide benefits beyond salaries and pensions.
Leveling the playing field
Half (49%) of SMEs say recruitment and retention are major issues, and they struggle to compete with bigger businesses when it comes to securing talent. More than a quarter (27%) said they know their benefits packages aren’t as strong as those of larger firms, while 25% say they struggle to meet employees’ salary expectations.
Employee Benefit Consultants will play a key role in supporting SMEs with their recruitment and retention going forward, the MetLife research reveals. In fact, around 46% of SMEs will actively look for support with strategies to attract talent, and 41% want help with retention strategies over the next year.
Both of these figures have increased significantly since MetLife last conducted similar research. Last year, for example, only 36% of SMEs were looking for help with recruitment and 34% with retention.
Speaking about the findings of the research, Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said: “Salary can be a blunt and expensive instrument and we know from our own employee benefit trends study in 2017 that in fact 55% of employees highly value the benefits on offer and that 34% would be persuaded to stay in their job if their benefits were enhanced.”
For many SMEs that feel as though they cannot compete on salary, benefits could hold the key to securing talent, and Employee Benefit Consultants (like ours) can help ensure firms get the best deal at the best price.
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