Employees working for Singapore's SMEs

They also want to see more digitalisation efforts from the company, as many agreed that digital transformation is an important factor for business survival.

Coverage for in-patient and outpatient medical expenses — such as for GP clinics and hospitalisation — is an important consideration for most small-and-medium-sized enterprise (SME) employees in Singapore, with nine in 10 surveyed saying that they want their employers to provide healthcare coverage.

This is according to Prudential Singapore's commissioned poll findings released on Monday (25 April 2022), which explored the needs and challenges of SMEs in the area of medical and employee benefits.

Looking at its data, six in 10 (60%) of the 1,029 respondents said that they are "more willing" to join an SME that provides medical benefits, while almost four in 10 shared that they are "more likely" to stay in a company that provides the same benefits. Meanwhile, almost half of them see companies that provide medical benefits as caring employers.

That said, findings revealed that 13% of respondents said their company "does not offer any medical benefits" which report analysts discovered that the number of similar responses doubled for those who are working in SMEs with 10 or less employees. To put this into perspective, SMEs account for 99% of the businesses in Singapore, and they employ 70% of the workforce, per Singstat's report. Delving deeper, the core of the matter, according to most respondents involved in the poll, was cited as small company size and high cost of group insurance.

When SME owners and HR professionals were probed about how much budget is set aside for their company’s medical benefits per year, almost two in five said S$10,000 and below.

Dennis Tan, CEO, Prudential Singapore, said that medical benefits are essential to employees’ overall wellbeing and success at work. "Awareness of health and protection has gone up since the pandemic, so understandably, employees value medical benefits and appreciate investments in their wellbeing and future. An ageing workforce coupled with rising healthcare costs are also driving employees to want support in the area of medical protection so that they can focus on their work with greater peace of mind."

Don't neglect employee benefits

Report analysts discovered that SME employees also value flexible benefits such as company-sponsored trainings, e-vouchers, and wellness initiatives (e.g. fitness classes), with close to nine in 10 (85%) saying employers should consider it a priority to provide such benefits. However, more than three in 10 (34%) shared that their company does not offer any employee benefits. This number went up to 45% for SMEs with 10 or less employees. Similarly, small company size and high costs were noted as the key reasons why their companies do not provide employee benefits.

It is noteworthy that SME employees also regard employee benefits to be just as important as medical benefits. Three in five respondents said that they are "more willing to join" a company that provides employee benefits, and two in five mentioned that they are "more willing to stay" in a company that provides the same.

Don't forget about digitalisation

When asked in the poll if they are more willing to stay in a company that prioritises digital transformation, about one in five respondents said that they would, and four in five agreed that digital transformation is an important factor for business survival. That said, only slightly more than two in 10 (21%) SME employees say that their company is already digital.

At the moment, they face challenges such as lack of talent with digital skills, high cost, and lack of training opportunities to do it effectively. There is, however, a case for optimism as more than six in 10 (64%) SME employees say that their company intends to undergo or is on the road to digital transformation. Steps are, according to them, being taken to digitalise include automation of processes and training for employees to enhance their digital skills.

“Digitalisation is crucial in helping SMEs remain competitive and relevant in the digital economy. It empowers businesses to accelerate growth and at the same time, appeals to talents who share this belief and are looking for companies that have started on their digital journey,” Tan said.

Read alsoThe Great Resignation: How the global phenomenon is hitting Singapore’s SMEs hard


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