Jobseekers' perceptions of lower pay in SMEs, makes it harder for smaller employers to find talent, according to Hays

Small businesses may be losing out on the most talented employees due to concerns among jobseekers around pay and benefits, according to a report firm recruitment firm Hays.

Almost half (49%) of the 700 jobseekers surveyed believe salaries are not as competitive at SMEs as at larger employers, and over half (55%) believe smaller businesses are not able to offer as many benefits.

Despite almost three-quarters (74%) of people reporting a positive experience of working in smaller businesses, the survey found that a quarter (25%) would prefer to work for a larger organisation. Over half (52%) expressed concerns about the stability of smaller organisations.

But respondents felt that job satisfaction and interesting work can be found in any size organisation. In addition, a number of positive factors about working for smaller businesses were also identified, such as a more hands-on approach (88%), greater responsibility (83%) and greater understanding of the business as a whole (83%). The chance to work more closely with senior people (88%) may help attract people to work in small businesses and respondents also found recognition from senior managers another benefit.

Charles Logan, director at Hays, said: "In the current turbulent job market it's no surprise that workers are looking for job security. But we also know that career development is very important to most professionals and this plays a key part in their decision to leave an organisation and accept a new role.

"To attract the skilled and talented individuals needed to remain competitive, small businesses need to combat some of the stereotypes and ensure professionals are aware of the advantages they can offer workers looking to move their careers on.

"If they cannot compete with larger salaries or more expensive benefit schemes, they can often provide more interesting and varied work and the chance for people to work with senior people. It is these benefits that they need to sell to professionals.

"Benefits need to be finely tuned to the needs of workers in smaller businesses. To counter worries about stability, smaller employers need to clearly communicate to potential recruits where their business is heading and the opportunities for future growth."

The findings are based on an online survey of 700 jobseekers, carried out between October-November 2011.