While nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of small- and medium-sized employers say cost is the biggest hurdle to offering employee benefits, a majority of SME workers say low-cost benefits or perks are most important, according to a new survey by software company PeopleKeep.

It found 93 per cent of respondents said paid time off is “very or extremely important,” while only 79 per cent of SMEs offer this benefit. Similarly, 79 per cent of employees said flexible work schedules are important, but only 52 per cent of SMEs provide these arrangements.

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Roughly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees said they value being able to choose their own benefits. And while 77 per cent of SMEs believe the benefits they offer are worth the cost to their employees, only 56 per cent of employees agreed, a percentage that decreases among millennials (50 per cent) and generation Z respondents (36 per cent).

“While offering employee benefits can be a big financial challenge for many small and midsize businesses, it doesn’t have to be,” said Victoria Glickman Hodgkins, chief executive officer of PeopleKeep, in a press release. “By offering a customizable benefits package that includes benefits employees value most, supplementing your current package with more cost-effective benefits or simply making more of an effort to educate your employees about what they’re already being offered, SMEs can compete against larger organizations in the fight for talent.”

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