Almost Half of SMEs Overhaul Their Employee Benefits Due to COVID


Data from Drewberry’s 2021 Employee Benefits Survey, which questioned 2,000 workers at UK SMEs, found that almost half of SMEs (47.4%) introduced employee benefits in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Among the 47.4% of businesses that did so, the following benefits were the most common:

Have Employers Introduced the Right Benefits?

Now we know what employers have introduced, does this match up with what workers actually want? According to our statistics, the following benefits were most in demand among workers:

  • Flexible hours (50.8%)
  • Group Private Health Insurance (35.3%)
  • Work from home options (33.6%)
  • Group Life Insurance (33%)
  • Group Critical Illness Insurance (30.7%).

This indicates a fairly decent match between what workers want and what employers have introduced. Businesses have prioritised flexible hours and home working since the pandemic, as 50.8% of workers and 33.6% of workers desired respectively.

Meanwhile, 16.9% of companies introduced Group Health Insurance, something more than 1 in 3 workers wanted.

Moreover, when asked about the types of benefits workers wanted, 51.1% of staff said those which helped manage their health and wellbeing. It appears those businesses which have introduced employee benefits are on the right track.

What Else Can Employers Do to Support Employees?

While a notable proportion of companies (47.4%) introduced benefits following the outbreak of the pandemic, 52.6% introduced none at all. This is despite obvious demand from their workers.

With rival firms increasingly offering new or better benefits compared to before the pandemic, employers should consider their options in this area to not fall behind the market.

As well as the above insurance benefits, which workers are particularly keen on, the following lists some alternatives workers also wanted to see.

Money for Setting Up a Home Office

56.3% of those who’d normally be in an office are currently working from home due to the pandemic. By and large this has been a success — 49.7% of workers said they were either more productive or far more productive at home.

However, almost a 1 in 4 workers cited inferior computer / office equipment as a main challenge to working from home. This is possibly why 14.3% of workers wanted money towards home office equipment.

If we’re going to embrace any form of home working going forward — and with just 13.5% of workers working from home wanting to go back to the office full-time, this seems likely — properly equipping workers is essential.

Better Communication Strategies

In light of the increase in home working, companies need to get better at communicating with workers. While we’re all on a steep learning curve, this is necessary given the following statistics:

  • 35.9% of workers said that a lack of internal communication made them unhappy at work.
  • 40.3% said a lack of general support from managers / coworkers caused tension at work.
  • Meanwhile, for those who thought their mental health had worsened since working from home during lockdown, 69.7% said it was due to a lack of social interaction, 63.6% put it down to feeling isolated and 24.1% cited lack of support from their manager.
  • When listing challenges of working from home, 37.1% said they found a lack of connection to colleagues / their employer challenging, while 33.9% said communicating with colleagues was more difficult.

More Opportunities for Training and Development

While the proportion of workers who said they’ll look for a new job in the next 12 months fell from 47.7% to just 28.2%, it’s still a notable proportion of staff. If companies cannot train and develop their employees, they may lose them to other firms.

  • 35.6% of workers were unhappy in their job due to a lack of opportunity for career progression / development.
  • 46.4% of workers wanted to see benefits that offered training or development relevant to their career aspirations.

Reviewing Your Employee Benefits?

Employers need to address the fact that 48.8% of workers said that a lack of recognition for their efforts made them unhappy at work. Introducing employee benefits can be a great way to make workers feel valued.

Yet getting employee benefits off the ground isn’t always easy. You’ll need to do a lot of research into your options and gather data about your workforce — and that’s just the start of the heavy lifting involved.

If you need help we are here to provide independent fee free advice. You can call us on 02084327333 or email help@drewberry.co.uk.

Nadeem Farid Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Our experts are here to do all the heavy lifting involved with setting up and maintaining a competitive employee benefits package for your business.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

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