• Three out of four SMEs who currently do not provide benefits are considering offering them
  • Boosting productivity and improving health and wellness are key drivers for launching benefits
  • MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study 2017 highlights a growing need for SMEs to help workers tackle the causes of financial stress 


Small and medium-sized companies are focusing on the potential of employee benefits to help boost productivity and improve company performance, new research from MetLife’s UK Employee Benefit Trends Study 20171 shows.

Its unique survey, which is now in its third edition, included specific research among companies employing fewer than 100 staff who do not offer benefits.

Findings reveal more than three out of four (76%) are considering offering benefits to staff in the future. MetLife estimates that would be equivalent to around 245,000 companies potentially investing in benefits for their employees over the next three years.

The study reveals that around 323,000 SMEs2 – around a quarter of the UK’s employers – currently do not offer benefits in addition to their legal requirement to provide workplace pensions.

Reflecting the challenging operating environment many firms face, around a fifth (21%) of the firms surveyed said they had previously offered benefits in the past two years but withdrew them. Over half said they have never offered any additional benefits to staff.

The key reasons cited for introducing benefits were boosting productivity and improving employees’ health and wellness. Around 66% of companies considering offering benefits said increased productivity was a driver while 64% said enhancing wellness was a motivation. Around 63% said benefits would help with recruitment while 61% believe benefits would help with the retention of key staff.

MetLife is urging employers to harness the power of employee benefits to help tackle rising uncertainty among staff, including a focus on financial wellness programmes in the workplace to support employees whose financial concerns have increased considerably over the last two years. Nearly four out of ten (39%) employees say they are living from payday to payday compared with 24% in 2015.

Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director at MetLife UK, said: “SMEs are under considerable financial pressure and it is understandable that many have either not taken the step of investing in benefits for the first time, or in fact stopped offering all but the compulsory auto-enrolled pension.

“However, this calls into question the effectiveness of the intermediary market as a valued source of strategic business advice to SMEs. Benefits should be seen as a performance driver worth investing in, not as a cost without payback. Our survey is encouraging as it shows the potential that is out there. The industry’s challenge is to help SMEs take the right steps.”

The survey found that more than half (53%) of SMEs that don’t offer benefits are planning on increasing their workforces over the next three years with just 6% expecting they will have to cut jobs.

Key insights from the full Employee Benefits Trends Study 2017 can be downloaded from HERE

1 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study, 2017

2 Figure based on SMEs employing fewer than 100 employees, taken from the Department for Business, Energy & Industry Strategy’s Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions 2016, published on 13th October 2016.


Notes to Editors

The references to “MetLife” are general references to the group as a whole and not to specific entities within the group. MetLife in the UK comprises a number of different companies.

MetLife Europe d.a.c. is an Irish Insurance company based in Dublin with Dirk Ostijn as Chief Executive Officer. MetLife Europe d.a.c. provides financial products into the UK via its UK branch, of which Dominic Grinstead is the branch manager.

MetLife Europe Services Limited is an Irish services company, which distributes MetLife Europe d.a.c.’s products to Independent Financial Advisers via its UK branch. Key personnel within the UK branch of MetLife Europe Services Limited are Simon Massey, Wealth Management Director, Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director and Claire Oldstein, Marketing Director.

Products and services are offered by MetLife Europe d.a.c. which is an affiliate of MetLife, Inc. and operates under the “MetLife” brand.

MetLife Europe d.a.c. is a private company limited by shares and is registered in Ireland under company number 415123. Registered office at 20 on Hatch, Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. UK branch office at One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AA. Branch registration number: BR008866. MetLife Europe d.a.c. (trading as MetLife) is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Details about the extent of our regulation by the FCA and PRA are available from us on request.

MetLife Europe d.a.c. is affiliated with US-based MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), which through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Founded in 1868, MetLife is a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management. Serving approximately 100 million customers, MetLife has operations in nearly 50 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit

For further information, please contact:

Jo Riddell
Head of Communications, UK, Ireland and Europe, MetLife