Why SMEs Should Be Offering Private Medical Cover To Their Employees

In Business, Employee Benefits, Healthcare by Tom McGuinness

Paid private health insurance is the number one insurance benefit employees want the most, new research reveals.

According to the survey of 1,000 SME workers by Drewberry, nearly a third of employees (31.3%) want private medical cover, which puts the perk second to only flexible hours, cited by 42.3% of respondents. The ability to work from home and life insurance were the third and fourth most wanted benefits respectively.

However, it seems that many SMEs are missing a trick, as the same research found that only 12.6% of employers offer private medical insurance as a benefit. This suggests there is a misalignment between what employees want and what employers are offering. And when you consider how competitive the race for talent is, and how crucial it is for businesses to retain their key staff, by not offering private medical insurance, many organisations could be losing out.

Many SMEs missing a trick

Despite benefits being one of the main talent battlegrounds on which SMEs can compete, smaller firms are still not taking advantage. For example, the smaller the business in terms of number of employees, the less likely they are to offer paid perks, such as private health insurance. Instead, these smaller firms tend to focus on low-cost benefits like flexible working and offering employees the option to work from home.

While both of these benefits are valued by employees (as the Drewberry research shows), are they enough alone to attract and retain the best talent?

Now one finding from the Drewberry report that SMEs should take note of is the percentage of employees who are looking for a new job. The survey revealed that half of SME workers are looking to move jobs in the next 12 months, with salary (67%), working hours (59.6%) and location (56.7%) cited as the top three motivations for jumping ship.

Perhaps unsurprisingly – given the fact that they are usually beginning their careers – younger workers are significantly more likely to move on and take new opportunities. Indeed, the Drewberry research shows that 73.5% of the youngest workers say this will be the case in the next 12 months.

How can business medical cover help?

In addition to being a benefit that employees most definitely want, private health insurance can also help with sickness absence.

Health-related absenteeism and presenteeism cause employers to lose an average of 35.6 working days a year per employee. And with NHS waiting times now at record levels, can businesses really expect their sick employees to return to work swiftly?

With private medical insurance, diagnosis, treatment and recovery of an acute medical condition can be expedited. This means employees stand a greater chance of recovering from their sickness quicker and return to work in a shorter space of time.

So not only is it a perk that many employees want, it’s also one that stands to benefit everyone. A true win-win!

With the arms race to secure top talent hotting up, small businesses may need to look at improving their employee benefits package if they want to attract the best new staff.

Tom is the Sales Director for Premier Choice Group. In his role, Tom oversee’s growth across all areas of the business while maintaining a small number of his own clients. At Premier Choice, Tom and the team deliver a unique, personal service to every client, while growing the business and maintaining a strong reputation as the UK’s best intermediary.