3 Ways for SME’s to attract and retain the best employees

09 July 2019


Business success requires great employees.

To compete with large corporates small and medium size business owners need to create a healthy work environment and provide a benefits package to attract and retain the best talent. “When it comes to attracting top talent, incentives and remuneration are great, but job seekers still care deeply about primary employee benefits such as healthcare, life and disability insurance” says Terry Veitch, Managing Partner at NGS Global Executive Search – Africa. According to Veitch, “today these key employee benefits are ever-increasingly a part of the recruitment process and can significantly influence a candidate’s decision to join or not join a particular company. At the end of the day these crucial benefits are directly link to the medical and financial well-being of the individual and in turn those closest to them, notably their families”

Here are the 3 benefits that appear to have the biggest impact and how you can use them to build a talented and effective team.

1. Life and Disability Cover

Alongside healthcare insurance, life and disability cover are seen as vitally important benefits to job candidates. Philip Stevens, CEO of PSS Recruitment, says “when you offer life and disability cover as a group benefit, it can be an indicator that you’re a stable company that’s ready for growth”. “The need for group life and disability cover can be particularly important for entry level and mid-level candidates where there is a critical need for these benefits as candidates are underinsured in their personal capacities”.

Businesses that offer these benefits are also providing a level of financial protection for themselves as there is frequently a moral obligation placed on the employer to assist the family of a deceased employee or to continue providing financial support to an employee when illness and disability prevents them from working.

A group life and disability policy for an entire business can cost the same or even less than a team lunch and shows you value your employees for the long term, even in their time of need. Stevens says. “Job candidates are looking for thoughtful, long-term benefits that are financially effective.”

2. Medical Insurance

Health insurance is a basic benefit that employees need and expect. If you don’t offer it, you’ll have a hard time finding good talent and you will remain vulnerable to loosing staff to an employer that does. To stand out and make your company more attractive, you need to provide affordable health insurance. Medical aid is still considered to offer the best access to private healthcare, but it is often unaffordable. Therefore, many employers are now providing health insurance as a more affordable alternative. There are several competitively priced health insurance plans now available that provide day-to-day access to GP networks, radiology and dentistry as well as hospital benefits.

3. Casual Dress Code

The days of business professional dress codes are dwindling. Many recruiters spoken to believe a casual dress code is an important and effective benefit.

Casual work attire can present a significant cost saving to employees and can make them feel more at ease. It also breaks down barriers and allows people to bond more on a personal level. This freedom to express themselves can make workers feel more relaxed, creative, and productive. An estimated half of all job seekers interviewed show a preference for a casual or business casual dress code.

The dress for your day policy is something that is already in place in many local companies including Nestle, which has been crowned top employer numerous times. But in other industries such as the banking and financial services industry, those who have adopted flexibility are only willing to go as far as “smart casual” or “business casual”, which means no baggy clothes, cargo pants or sneakers. This however is changing with Investec recently announcing that from September 2019 it will remove its current dress code. Lesley-Anne Gatter, head of human resources at Investec SA says, “Surprisingly, there are clients we see who don’t want us in suits. Equally with suppliers, our suppliers are often in shorts and T-shirts and engaging with them like that is important. There will be no rules on what people can and cannot wear. The only rule is that employees must dress for their day. If they are a banker and going to see a client who prefers informal engagement, they can dress for the occasion. But if they are seeing a more conservative client, they should adjust accordingly”.

My first-hand experience at Zestlife reinforces the opinions expressed by the recruitment professionals that these are three powerful benefits that assist businesses to compete for the very best talent and build a great team. As such we are passionate about providing group life, disability and health insurance that is effective, uncomplicated and affordable, particularly for small to medium size businesses.