UK SME Adoption of Employee Benefits 2019

UK SME Adoption of Employee Benefits 2019

UK SME Adoption of Employee Benefits 2019


A recent survey has found that there are differences in the priorities of different generations when it comes to employee benefits packages, and employers should maximize packages by giving employees what they value most.

Older generations within the workforce (Baby Boomers and Generation X) are more concerned about financial benefits, with pensions being the standout difference. Over two thirds (39%) of baby boomers consider pensions to be the most valued benefit, while just 10.3% of generations Z hold that opinion. The youngest generation is more concerned with work-life balance (26.3%), financial benefits (16.4%) and health benefits (14.2%).

Employers should tailor benefits packages, at least by generation. Employees fifty years away from receiving pensions are understandably not particularly enthused by them. Therefore, it would be wise to consider offering alternative work-life balance benefits, such as flexible working hours, gym memberships or extra holiday purchase options.

The survey highlights how important benefit packages are to staff. We asked what prompted employees to include 18 different products into their and between 75%-90% of respondents said they were employee-driven. This means the company offered the product either due to direct employee demand or proactively as a measure to help retain staff, as opposed to it being suggested by an advisor.

Employees’ demand being at the heart of the reason why benefits are offered and employers should take the time to ensure their staff are satisfied with their packages. It is increasingly important for the emerging workforce - with over a quarter willing to sacrifice salary for an improved benefits package.

2019 Insurance Consumer Survey data illustrates that younger generations are slightly less driven by pure financial measures such as basic salary and pensions. This represents an opportunity for employee benefits providers, as a significant percentage of the emerging workforce would be open to a reduced salary if an attractive range of benefits are offered.

The report “UK SME Adoption of Employee Benefits 2019” highlights the opportunities that exist in offering employee benefits by sizing the number of SMEs in the UK. It looks at the penetration of employee benefits among SMEs and the factors affecting this. It also explores how employee benefits are purchased, identifies the leading insurers, and highlights the importance of offering benefits in order to attract and retain employees. Additionally, the report discusses what triggers SMEs to take up various employee benefit products.


The role of advisors has increased, but benefits are still mainly triggered by employees.
London remains the main area for SMEs and benefits, although Wales and the West Midlands offer strong benefits as well.
Benefit packages should be tailored to a company’s workforce by generation. Our survey data indicates that Generation X and baby boomers are more driven by financial benefits, whereas Generations Y and Z give more value to the likes of soft-support services.

Reasons to buy

Understand the opportunities in cross-selling employee benefits alongside general insurance for SMEs.
Adjust your strategy by discovering the most common employee benefits provided by UK SMEs while identifying the top providers.
Understand the current pressures on SMEs and how these may impact the sale of employee benefits.
Learn how providers are innovating in the employee benefit space.

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • What do employees want?
  • SME employee benefit triggers
  • SMEs and employee benefits
    • Table Number of UK SMEs (including sole traders), split by region, 2018
  • Employee benefit provider market shares
    • Table Top three providers among SMEs (excluding sole traders), market share by employee benefit, 2019
    • Table Leading channels and methods that SMEs use to purchase employee benefits, 2019
  • Opportunities
  • SME employee benefits by region
    • Wales has the highest private pension penetration
    • Wales and London lead for life insurance
    • London is the strongest region for healthcare cash plans
    • London and East Midlands lead for private health insurance
    • North East trails only London in childcare vouchers
    • West Midlands employers most likely to allow extra holiday purchase
    • Northern Irish employees remain most likely to receive company cars
    • London and West Midlands offer the most flexible working
    • London leads for gym memberships
    • Workers in Northern Ireland are least likely to receive retail discounts
  • Appendix

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