Why SMEs Must Increase Employee Health and Wellbeing Support

A study by Towergate Health & Protection has found that SMEs must place a greater emphasis on employee health and wellbeing support to keep up with larger companies. As employees across the UK feel the pressure of the current economic climate, the health and wellbeing benefits offered by employers are becoming more significant than in previous years.

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The research

The research by Towergate Health & Protection saw over 500 UK employers of various sizes surveyed. When questioned, 39% of employers said that SMEs are unable to keep up with larger businesses when it comes to providing employees with much-needed health and wellbeing support1.

The same question was put to the smaller businesses who took part (with 50 employees or less), with 47% of those surveyed feeling the same2. 72% of employers who took part in the survey felt that SMEs struggle to provide the same standard of health and wellbeing support for employees due to a lack of buying power3.

We know that the health and wellbeing benefits of a workplace are now a key factor for employees to stay with a business, meaning the study’s findings will be concerning for SMEs4.

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How can SMEs boost employee health and wellbeing support?

Supporting employee health and wellbeing may be more challenging for smaller businesses, but it isn’t impossible. In fact, there are ways in which HR managers from SMEs can work their company’s size to their advantage. They may not have the resources to provide as many benefits and perks as their larger counterparts, but SMEs can offer more tailored packages that suit the specific needs of their staff.

Having a greater understanding of the company employees’ backgrounds and lifestyles may enable HR managers to choose health and wellbeing perks that are more likely to appeal to their workforce.

For example, if an SME employs a group of staff who have an interest in keeping fit and active, they may be able to organise for a yoga instructor to visit one lunch hour each week for those who wish to take part.

Customised employee health and wellbeing experiences may be less expensive than those of larger businesses but will go a long way to making employees feel that their general wellbeing is valued and promoted by their employers.

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.”

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Promoting employee health benefits

Once the company’s employee health packages are in place, it’s important that they’re communicated successfully to the workforce. Larger businesses may have access to a larger communications team who could handle this, but there are ways to ensure employees know what they’re entitled to and how to access it.

Check whether any partner companies have apps or website areas for members that can be shared with employees. HR managers can also schedule time to send regular reminders of the health and wellbeing support on offer. Think about seasonal lifestyle trends and use these to push the most relevant services for the time of year, as employees may find it difficult to browse through a selection.

With many employees in all companies currently tackling the cost-of-living crisis, communicating that HR are available for a simple catch up, vent or advice can also go a long way towards boosting employee’s mental and physical health, and this may be less daunting for staff to organise in a smaller enterprise.


1-4. Research conducted by Opinium on behalf of Towergate Health & Protection. Sample: 500 UK HR decision makers. Field dates: 28 January to 7 February 2022.

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Health insurance from Towergate.

Visit our health insurance webpage or call 0800 389 7723 for more information.