SME staff see value in flexibility

SME staff see value in flexibility

Flexibility is at the core of retaining top talent for SMEs, according to a new report.

Flexibility is a key facet of engaging and retaining top talent for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

That’s according to a new survey from Bupa, which shows that six out of ten employees of SMEs who responded felt that offering the right benefits is an important part of developing a happy and motivated workforce.


It is unsurprising that 42 per cent said benefits were their most important consideration when they chose a job – second only to the salary on offer.

But the survey also found that simply treating talent in the right way could make a huge difference. In fact, 43 per cent said they felt more motivated by being treated well on a day-to-day basis than by seeing their salary creep upwards.

Flexibility is one of the most important considerations for many employees, with remote working and flexible hours among the options that can help to promote a better work-life balance and keep talent productive.

Recently, all workers were granted the legal right to request flexible working which was previously only available to those with caring responsibilities. It was intended to help businesses become more agile while employees could adapt their work to their lifestyle – but the Bupa study shows that SMEs are not yet taking advantage of the opportunity.

Just six per cent of the employees surveyed said they felt the changes had made a difference to their organisation, and less than a third were confident that their boss would support them if they requested flexible working.


Half of respondents felt companies tend to underestimate the importance of benefits in the overall feel of an organisation, and 51 per cent also said that not offering benefits would make an employer less appealing to prospective job applicants.

It can also impact on existing employees, given that 32 per cent are planning to leave in the next 12 months to find an employer with better benefits.

Bupa SME director Richard Norris explains that a shift in their approach to flexible working will lead to a better-skilled, more engaged workforce for small firms.

“While not every job or industry lends itself to flexible working, by supporting it where appropriate, leaders and managers can help attract talent and keep their workforce happy and productive,” he says.

“SMEs can often make changes more easily than larger organisations and they should embrace the opportunity to ensure their benefits appeal to their current and potential employees.”

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