Rewards and benefits packages that were previously only available to the biggest companies are increasingly available to firms of all sizes, even small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Advances in technology and the increasing adoption of mobile and online platforms in all aspects of life are leading to a significant opportunity for SMEs to increase engagement with employees, and to drive greater value from the investments that they make into their people.
It’s coming at a time when more and more people are prioritising employee benefits outside of traditional remuneration when searching for employment, making this aspect of the human resources (HR) function more important than ever.
The changing face of employee benefits
Health and wellbeing are of increasing importance to employees and employers alike. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations have been focusing much more on how to ensure their employees are looked after. 1
This can include healthcare benefits, but it goes much further. Policies such as flexible working are much more common than they were five years ago, as employers recognise the advantages of improving the accessibility of job opportunities.
On top of this, how employees interact with these benefits is also changing. The remote working shift brought with it a drastic (and enforced) increase in our reliance on digital technologies to deliver services of all kinds – from food and entertainment to financial services and household management.
It means that employees now tend to prefer to access workplace benefits through some form of online portal, either online or through a mobile app. 2
It is no surprise that HR functions are becoming more important to executives and receiving more investment. Our research has shown that companies are keen to invest in HR to improve employee health and wellbeing as well as to attract and retain talent. 3
For small businesses, providing these kinds of benefits for employees without breaking the bank can be challenging. Often, these services are pitched at – and priced for – much larger companies with hundreds or even thousands of employees.
Staff retention is often of greater importance for SMEs than for larger organisations, as the cost of recruiting and training may take up a greater proportion of overall costs. In addition, with a small workforce, one absence may be felt much more keenly – particularly if that person had specific knowledge or expertise.
However, technology is changing this and breaking down the traditional barriers to accessibility. Using mobile apps and digital platforms, even the smallest businesses can now offer their employees rewards and benefits at an affordable price. This is achieved through improved accessibility, ease of use, and economies of scale.
Technology can also streamline administration and provide more certainty over outcomes. It can help reduce operational risks, improve compliance, and generate efficiencies. It can also improve how employees perceive their employers and working environment. Our research shows that providing more and relevant benefits can mean employees are more likely to think their employers care about their health and wellbeing. 4
How Mercer can help
Through Darwin Commercial, a service from Mercer Marsh Benefits, we offer access to a range of rewards packages and benefits from third-party providers.
We can help you give your employees reassurance and support through services such as health insurance, income protection and life insurance. As an employer, you can mix and match the different services to create a bespoke package suitable to your company and its employees, with the help of our expert advisers.
Elect offers financial services and rewards through our specially selected preferred providers, including:
- Enjoy Benefits offers a workplace nursery service to help manage the cost of childcare.
- Tusker and Octopus provide electric car financing solutions through salary sacrifice, presenting an efficient way to buy a new vehicle.
- Rewards programmes from Fizz Benefits, Boostworks and Perkbox offer discounts, cashback and vouchers at a wide range of retailers and brands.
Because these providers are accessed and remunerated through Mercer Marsh Benefits, we can negotiate much more competitive fees on behalf of the thousands of SMEs we represent. This provides your company with economies of scale it wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.
With Darwin Commercial, you can offer these and many more opportunities to your employees through our digital benefits platform. You’ll also benefit from new features and advances as they emerge, without the need for expensive system upgrades.
Contact us today to find out how our team of dedicated experts can help create a benefits package to get the best from your employees.
2 See: Mercer Marsh Benefits, ‘Health on Demand report 2023
3 See: Mercer, ‘Beat the Crisis: How Executives Are Responding to Economic Shocks and Talent Shortages’, 2023'
4 Source: Mercer Marsh Benefits, ‘Benefits technology 2023’