Welcome to Drewberry’s third Annual Wealth and Protection Survey 2017. We’ve increased the number of participants from last year – we’ve asked 3,000 people compared with 2,000 previously – to improve the robustness of the data and get the widest possible opinions.
Tom Conner, BSc, MPhil
Director at Drewberry
Welcome to the first ever Drewberry Employee Benefits & Workplace Satisfaction Survey. We’ve asked 1,000 workers in small- and medium-sized enterprises a raft of questions to determine how happy they are in their job, including what could be done to improve employee happiness in the workplace. If you want workplace statistics on stress, job satisfaction and sick leave absence in the UK’s huge SME sector, this is the survey for you.
There is a lot to take from our findings and a lot more SMEs can be doing to support their most important asset, their employees.
The findings show that over 1 in 7 individuals surveyed were unhappy at work. According to the Federation of Small Businesses there are over 16 million people working for SMEs in the UK which would equate to over 2 million people being unhappy in their current role.
The top 3 factors which are contributing to their unhappiness are:
With better internal communication and processes most of these issues can be addressed to some extent.
Another cause for concern is finding over 55% of the respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they regularly feel stressed. The main two reasons are:
Again both of which SMEs can help to manage by providing financial education and supporting employees with their work-related stress.
Unfortunately by not tackling these issues head on we end up with bigger problems which includes losing unhappy staff who you have spent time and money investing in.
To help stem this tide of potential leavers, we’ve put together a comprehensive stress-busting guide to help SMEs manage stress among their workforce.
Scarily, even though the majority of workers said they were happy at work, nearly half of SME workers were looking to move jobs in the next 12 months. Having a happy workforce isn’t enough – employers need to work hard to keep top talent.
With 60% of private sector employment being made up of SMEs there are some really fundamental things we can be doing to improve the wellbeing of our employees and make their time at work more rewarding and enjoyable. It will be better for businesses and better for the economy as a whole.
With a third of the unhappy workers saying this was partly down to a lack of employee benefits, maybe employers need to examine their offerings in this area to see if what they’re providing is conducive to retaining staff in such a tight labour market.
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry
55% of workers at UK SMEs said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I regularly feel stressed’.
The high levels of stress seen among the UK’s SME workforce is concerning, especially given that it’s such a big contributing factor to sickness absence. 16% of people surveyed said they’d had to take sick leave in the past 12 months due to stress, equivalent to 2.6 million people in total. Stress generally rose as the business got larger in terms of employee numbers.
Victoria Slade CeMAP
Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry
Money worries top the list, followed closely by work worries.
Stress is taking its toll – more than 1 in 3 workers had required time off in the past 12 months to deal with a mental health problem.
With stress being so prolific, it’s no wonder that more than 2 in 5 SME workers said they would want to see employee benefits that helped improve health and wellbeing.
This can be done with group products such as Group Income Protection, which come with additional benefits such as employee assistance programs (EAPs), which are designed to support workers in and out of the workplace in many aspects of their lives.
Sam Barr-Worsfold, DipFA
Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry
Even though the vast majority of people said they were happy at work, this wasn’t enough to stop half of SME workers looking for a new job in the next year.
Retaining top talent isn’t always straightforward, so we’ve looked at what makes people happy and unhappy in the workplace to see if there’s anything employers can do to address workers’ issues.
The top five reasons people gave for being happy in their jobs were:
The top five reasons people gave for being unhappy in their job were:
Nearly 1 in 3 UK workers said a lack of employee benefits was making them unhappy in their job. The smaller the business, the less likely the company is to offer any employee benefits at all.
With nearly half of UK SME workers looking to move jobs over the next 12 months, it’s important to consider what these workers will be looking for from a new job. The top five most important things individuals considered were:
The youngest workers were most likely to be considering upping sticks over the next 12 months, with 73.5% saying this was the case.
The top benefits on offer from UK SMEs were:
While it’s good news to see that 72.1% of SME workers are being offered a pension, by now auto-enrolment should have extended a pension to every eligible UK worker aged 22–State Pension Age and earning at least £10,000. Others older or younger than this or earning between £6,032 and £10,000 have the right to opt in, also.
Flexible hours and work-from-home options were among the top five benefits offered by UK SMEs. The smaller the business in terms of number of employees, the less likely they were to offer paid benefits, such as business health insurance, and the more likely they were to offer low cost perks like flexible working.
If smaller firms want to retain existing talent and attract staff from larger firms, then one thing to consider is improving their employee benefits package.
While stress among the baseline population of the survey was already high, at 55%, it was even higher among young people.
65.1% of SME workers aged 18-24 agreed they regularly felt stressed, something that was true for just 38.6% of people aged 55-64.
What’s more, this was starting to impact on young people’s mental health and productivity at work. 18-24-year-olds had needed the most time off sick in the past 12 months to deal with their mental health, with this being the case for 1 in 4 such workers.
Although the majority of the SME workforce is now being offered a pension, not everyone is clear on how much they’re saving…
People were also using their sick pay to care for family members, something that may not be so necessary if more workplaces introduced flexible working. With ageing parents and young children both now needing care, many more people are likely to struggle with this going forward.
More than a third of UK SME workers had taken time off work in the past 12 months due to stress or a mental health condition, almost three times as many who had needed time off for a musculoskeletal condition such as a bad back.
Of course, sick leave was also taken for other reasons, including hangovers and job interviews!