Employee health and wellbeing the main stressor for SME employers

A new study from Legal & General has found that two in five (37%) of SME employers in the UK – based on organisations with 50-249 employees – say that employee health and wellbeing is their top stressor right now, ahead of workload/working hours, challenging recruitment environment, managing dispersed teams (on site, remote, hybrid). Legal & General Group Protection says the results indicate that SME employers are looking for help in how to design, implement and monitor programmes within their businesses.

Covid-19 has changed the employee wellbeing landscape for SMEs 

Nine in 10 employers with 50-249 employees, and eight in 10 with 10-49 employees, say the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way they think about employee wellbeing; in terms of priorities, budget and seeking out advice. Two in five (40%) SME employers say that employee wellbeing is now higher on their agenda. This represents the top answer for organisations of both 10-49 and 50-249 employees.

Also, over a third (35%) of leaders within 50-249 employee organisations say they are ‘more comfortable getting support from advisers / consultants, via online or digital channels than they were pre-pandemic’. This represented the top answer for 250+ employee organisations.

A substantial proportion of SMEs of all sizes said that ‘more budget is spent on wellbeing initiatives’ now in comparison to before the Covid-19 pandemic; 10-49 employees (27%); 50-249 employees (30%); 250+ employees (37%). Many SMEs also said it’s also more important than ever for them to seek advice on how to do wellbeing well (26%).

Vanessa Sallows, left, Claims and Governance Director, Legal & General Group Protection, said: “As indicated by these findings, there is an amazing opportunity right now for the insurance industry to help SMEs of all sizes realise their employee health and wellbeing ambitions. And to do so in a way that is cost effective, outcome driven and foundation focused. In other words, that helps organisations look at the underlying causes of wellbeing, not just surface layer fixes. Where Legal & General Group Protection is concerned, this includes everything from: support to carry out stress risk assessments and act on the findings; insights to help leaders communicate in a way that creates a culture of wellbeing; measures to help assess value of wellbeing investment; to targeted prevention, early intervention and vocational rehabilitation. Research in the past has already shown that for SMEs, Group Income Protection is about much more than the claim. The majority using it to look after their staff and families and to differentiate their programme to support recruitment and retention.

“At Legal & General we’ve long-recognised this, excelling in our return-to-work capabilities to the point where, last year, 20% of all employees in the UK, that had claimed on a Group Income Protection policy and were able to return to work within the deferred period, were supported by Legal & General.”