Opinion

In tumultuous times, it's vital to retain talented and dedicated staff

5 min read

05 March 2019

Given the extensive turmoil created by this seemingly never-ending Brexit debacle, why are many managers even considering improving their staff benefits strategy?

You may be surprised to learn in this period of such business uncertainty, that six out of ten senior SME managers intend to increase the benefits they offer to staff.

Given the extensive turmoil created by this seemingly never-ending Brexit debacle and the disastrous consequences of a possible “no-deal”, many SMEs – especially those in the supply chain – are feeling the apprehension which has long gripped the corporates and big city institutions.

Investors are nervous, contracts are being put on hold and firms are generally waiting for clarity and certainty. Although they may be waiting in vain.

So why, when some SMEs may be looking nervously at their balance sheets and order books, are managers even considering improving their staff benefits strategy?

Well, it’s exactly at times like these that it’s vital for SMEs to retain talented and dedicated staff, who often play key roles in driving a business forward.

Smaller outfits will, in an increasingly competitive market, find it difficult to replace departing employees with someone with the same, or greater, level of expertise and knowledge.

Let’s not forget, it’s not only businesses who are feeling nervous, but employees too, as they may consider switching to a firm which they believe offers greater stability.

Although, as we have seen with the likes of Honda, Michelin, Dyson, Sony, and Panasonic, this is not always the case. In my experience, the owners of SMEs are more determined to ride out any storm because they are invested emotionally as well as financially in the business, as opposed to the faceless corporate number crunchers.

That’s why it’s important that SMEs make their people feel valued and to reward and recognise their dedication, loyalty and effort.

According to recent research from MetLife UK, six out of ten SME senior managers (24%) plan to significantly increase their employee benefits packages within the next two years.

There are a range of benefits broadly covering health, wellbeing and employee protection which can be tailored to each company’s requirements.

“It’s not only businesses who are feeling nervous, but employees too.”

Importantly, benefits such as a contribution towards or provision of health insurance, life assurance or income protection can put SMEs on a competitive footing with much larger companies.

It doesn’t always have to have a financial cost. Perhaps those business owners experiencing the squeeze can simply express appreciation to their staff for a job well done, or consider introducing such measures as an early Friday finish.

Here at Pimlico, I’ve championed both the physical and mental wellbeing of my people.

More and more firms are ditching their staff canteens to save money, but every day I witness the real benefits of providing subsidised grub 24/7. The canteen is also a social hub, where people have a chance to get together, relax and have a chat.

It helps that, along with an extensive healthy menu, they serve up a tasty bacon sarnie and a great mug of tea!

We also recently upgraded our free staff Pimlico gym with a whole host of state-of-the-art equipment, so our people can come and work out. Again, this promotes both good physical and mental wellbeing.

Pimlico also provides trained in-house PT instructors to provide guidance and encouragement as well as therapeutic massages to ease the stresses and strains of the working day.

This is in addition to a great pension scheme, summer and Christmas parties and an employee of the month incentive with £200 worth of vouchers up for grabs.

They are all very tangible benefits for those who work for Pimlico and I know, via their popularity and the positive feedback, they are greatly appreciated.

I’m a true believer that such benefits increase productivity, improve retention rates and create a stronger bond and sense of investment between employee and employer.

It’s also nice to give something back and make a public show of gratitude to those who have contributed to the success of your business.

After all, you are only ever as good as the people you employ.