SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) must leverage support available and make their health and wellbeing provision work harder, for them to compete with their larger corporate counterparts, according to research from Towergate Health & Protection.

In a survey of over 500 employers in companies of all sizes across the UK, overall, 39% stated that smaller companies are not able to compete with larger corporates in terms of health and wellbeing support.

With the question put to the smaller companies alone: those employing fewer than 50 people, the figure rises to nearly half (47%) stating that smaller companies are not able to match their larger contemporaries.

Buying power was seen as a major issue for smaller companies, stated as an issue by 72% of employers.

Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection, comments on the findings:

Although smaller companies can be at a disadvantage when it comes to budget and buying power, they can make up for it in terms of getting value from their benefits. SMEs tend to be more agile than large corporates, so have the potential to be more flexible with their benefits provision. With the family feel that is associated with smaller companies, they can also leverage this paternalistic ethos through the choice of benefits provided.

Employers need to work smarter

While larger corporates are known to offer a wide variety of health and wellbeing support, SMEs can make their benefits programme work smart by offering more tailored benefits that fit precisely with the company demographic and the needs of the employees.

SMEs should take advantage of health and wellbeing support that is geared up for smaller companies. Specialists in the field will be able to offer specific advice for SMEs and will be able to use their own buying power to maximise potential.

SMEs are less likely to have the dedicated comms teams that larger corporate companies have, so they need to take advantage of any assistance offered regarding the communication of health and wellbeing support. For instance, making the most of benefits apps and portals can really help to share the message, encourage take up and engagement, and inform employees of the value of their benefits.

Debra Clark concludes:

Just because a company is smaller does not mean its benefits should be any less valued or effective. Indeed they are vital in helping them compete in the marketplace. It is all about making benefits work for the individual employee and in that way they will give a positive return on the company’s investment. If anything, SMEs should view it as an advantage that they may find it easier to be more in touch with the precise requirements of their staff.

Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.