Women staff looking to leave SMEs for greater benefits

A survey by Sodexo finds a third of women planning to leave an SME would prefer to work for a larger company with more benefits and greater flexibility.

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SMEs are at risk of losing a quarter of their female employees, with 28% of female staff planning to leave their role in the first half of 2022, according to analysis by food services and facilities management company Sodexo.

Sodexo Engage’s survey of over 1,000 SME employers and employees found that 32% of women planning to leave their jobs would prefer to work at a larger corporation. These employees ranked stronger promotion prospects (45%) and more inclusive benefits (36%) as the main attractions of a big business.

Of the female employees who would rather work at an SME, 49% noted the “family feel” and 45% favoured the better work-life balance. However, a lack of flexibility (44%), as well as limited opportunities for progression (42%), were cited among reasons against working at a smaller business.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of female SME employees said they would be more likely to accept a role at an SME if it offered good benefits and 33% said they would be more engaged if they had better employee benefits.

Sodexo Engage also found that the majority of women still don’t feel valued at work, despite the fact that 90% of SME employers agree that rewarding and recognising their workforce enhances employee loyalty. 72% of women were more likely to feel undervalued in their team compared to men, and nearly one in 10 (8%) couldn’t remember the last time they were recognised for a job well done.

Burcin Ressamoglu, CEO at Sodexo Engage, said: “Despite more and more SME employers focusing on building workplaces where women are championed, not nearly enough have turned their attention to retaining this segment of their workforce. The ‘Great Resignation’ shows no sign of slowing down, so SMEs cannot afford to ignore the dangers of women leaving the workforce.

“In order to retain female talent, SMEs need to create a culture that supports the advancement of women by using key strategies such as inclusive benefits packages and comprehensive reward programmes. Businesses must also acknowledge the fact that policies like flexible working are more than a benefit, but a must-have, and an important first step in making female employees feel seen and recognised for their hard work.”

Meanwhile, in other jobs news there was a 73% increase in City jobs available in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, according to recruiter Morgan McKinley’s London Employment Monitor. Job movers are securing an average 22% pay rise, the survey found, an improvement on the 19% rises seen at the end of last year.

“The first three months of this year saw companies hiring in their droves and professionals with renewed confidence to move,” said Hakan Enver, managing director of Morgan McKinley UK. “It’s safe to say that firms have been desperate to hire.”  More than 11,000 jobs were advertised in the first three months of the year, rising to the highest level in two years, the survey found.

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