HR 31 May 2016
How small firms can match big business on employee benefits
How can small company owners match big name employers when it comes to salaries, long-term security or the growing packages of benefits? CEO at Untangl Richard Stewart, explained how the underdogs can compete. Attracting talent to a startup or small business can be a headache, even though startup founders are in a strong position when it comes to offering the buzz and challenge of a new enterprise, including flexibility, more involvement and sense of purpose. Employers recognised as the best to work for? attract and retain talent pools with a full welfare service for employees and their families, including everything from free health screening and private medical care to counselling, childcare, financial advice, fitness club memberships and massage therapies. You want to do the right thing by staff, but the admin related to services like HR, recruitment, payroll and benefits the kind of offerings that deliver a slick veneer for employees and the reassurance they’re part of a high-quality operation is time consuming and complex. The majority of employee benefits have historically been arranged through intermediaries like financial advisers. Advisers can be expensive and, since the ban on taking commission, have been following the big budgets rather than attempting to engage small business owners. The one benefit small firm owners have to offer to workers under new regulations is a pension. The arrival over the next two years of pension auto-enrolment also means the risk of penalties and fines for employers that get this wrong. Many will not have solid systems and accurate payroll data to rely on. The best way to think about employee benefits is to categorise them into four types (health/wellbeing, support services, financial security and’savings) and then look at what measures you can take in each area to suit your business and type of employees. don’t forget that you have the same duty of care to look after employee health and wellbeing, both physical and mental an issue the government is increasingly taking an interest in. A recent study by Westfield Health found that more than a third of UK employees say their working environment has a negative impact on their mental health, and one in two employees felt that their workplace did not manage mental health issues well. Putting in place access to employee support, like telephone and face-to-face counsellors, to help deal with stress and also other services like physiotherapists, demonstrates awareness and practical support for employees and helps reduce levels of absenteeism. Offering good benefits doesnt need to be costly or complex. New technologies and business models based around simple cloud-based apps mean small firms no longer need to be excluded.