The challenge of recruiting and retaining employees has intensified for small businesses as they strive to meet the evolving demands of employee benefits. This shift is not merely a reaction to the pandemic; it represents the new norm in the working world. In order to stay competitive and sustainable in the long term, SMEs need to explore flexible working models, enhance their benefits packages, and emphasize non-financial perks that improve employees’ work-life balance.

Embracing flexibility for better benefits:

Emma Cromarty, an independent Human Resource Specialist and director of ECHR Ltd, explains, “The key to attracting and retaining employees lies in offering benefits that outweigh the appeal of higher wages. Small businesses can attract top talent without going over their budget.”

“I, along with other independent HR professionals, have experienced a surge in requests for assistance in recruitment and employee retention. This used to be a service mainly offered to retainer clients. I’m not a recruitment agency, but more and more businesses are seeking support outside of the traditional recruitment agency setting.”

According to a study by Aviva, a considerable 41 percent of employees were drawn to their current positions due to the work-life balance they provide. Surprisingly, this percentage is higher than those who prioritize salary as the main factor.

Balancing better benefits with the cost of living crisis:

SMEs face additional pressure due to the escalating costs of living and the demand for higher wages. Affordability becomes a challenge, especially when combined with recent minimum wage increases. Emma helps employers explore alternative solutions, such as bonuses and benefits packages, to complement wages without exceeding their salary budgets. These strategies promote job satisfaction, thereby retaining employees’ interest in staying with their companies.

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The burden of resisting modern work practices weighs heavily on small businesses. Failing to adapt can result in recruitment difficulties, decreased productivity, and challenges in retaining talent. Companies that cling to traditional models risk falling behind their more forward-thinking counterparts, missing out on valuable opportunities for growth and success.

“To remain competitive and sustainable in the long term, SMEs must adapt to these changes,” advises Emma. “This means exploring flexible working models, enhancing benefits packages, and highlighting non-financial perks that improve employees’ work-life balance. This paradigm shift is not just a response to the pandemic; it’s the new reality of the working world.”