Employee Benefit Consultants are looking to the UK’s small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) for market growth, new research1 from MetLife UK shows.

Its independent study reveals that six in ten consultants (60%) believe that better take-up and penetration of benefits amongst SMEs is the greatest priority for the employee benefits industry in the next two years.

Small businesses account for 99.3%22 of all private sector enterprise employing 15.7million people or 60% of all private sector employment and more than two out of five (46%) of EBCs believe that SMEs are to increase their demand for bespoke benefits programmes tailored specifically to individual requirements.

SME requirements for flexible benefits provision was cited by 60% of EBCs as the main area of demand growth; and over two-fifths (41%) of EBCs believe voluntary benefits will be a category seeing significant SME demand increase.

EBCs also believe that better benefits communication will be core to SME future needs; 39% of brokers cited better benefits communication as an SME demand focus. Other areas of increased SME demand cited by a third (33%) of EBCs were benefits more suited to older workers; and increased SME demand for employee assistance programmes was mentioned by 21% of EBCs.

Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK said: “SMEs are the life-force of British business with a combined annual turnover was £1.8 trillion2, nearly half of all private sector turnover.

“Smaller employers are increasingly aware of the need to attract and retain a skilled, motivated workforce, especially where they may not be able to compete with larger businesses on pay or business profile.

“Well-tailored benefits that are well-communicated can make a significant difference to SME staff retention and employees will welcome support in improving physical health and wellness as well as financial wellness in the workplace.

“Fast growth businesses, often in the technology sector are growing from two to 200 employees in months rather than years, going from a ‘no benefits’ environment to needing to provide benefits in a short period.

“One of the issues preventing SMEs from adopting workplace benefits may be the absence of a dedicated HR function or one individual completing multiple HR tasks.  The role of the broker or EBC is vital in helping SMEs select the right benefits packages for their growing and diverse workforces.”

MetLife is focused on further enhancing strategic partnerships with leading brokers and EBCs as it expands its business among large corporates including multi-national clients as well as SMEs.

It is established as the UK’s third largest Group Life provider by number of schemes it insures3 and the fourth largest Group Income provider.

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