Thursday 11th April 2019

Choosing the right business strategy is key to kick-starting the growth of any business. SMART Employment has been making waves particularly with UK SMEs, so we’ve put together a quick Q&A to help answer some FAQs.


Q. Heard the term PEO knocking about recently, what is it?

Simple enough, a PEO is a Professional Employer Organisation. Title may sound a little long-winded, but basically PEOs are outsourcing firms. Their business model is designed to help smaller businesses prosper through a toolkit of HR services.

Q. Business model?

That’s right. The SMART Employment model. 

Q. Nice. Can you tell me more about it?

You may have heard of the Co-employment model. It’s the bread and butter of the PEO industry and, an American model by design, the success it’s had overseas has been no secret. Co-employment gives employers a nifty advantage in terms of resources, and a popular option in the US, it’s one of the key reasons the PEO industry has grown at roughly 8.3% each year since 2008. SMART Employment is a newer design. The UK didn’t yet have as good a fit for smaller businesses until SMART Employment came along. Think of it as all the advantages of Co-employment, but rebuilt to fit UK businesses.

Q. How does SMART Employment work?

When it comes to SE, there’s two players. The employer’s company and the PEO.

Let’s say you’re a business owner looking to outsource some of your workload. You’re thinking there’s a chunk of smaller tasks that your business can’t get away without doing, but which take up a lot of time – in this scenario, payroll is a big one.

Q. Wait, payroll? Why outsource such an integral part of your business?

There’s many other parts of a business that are often outsourced, like IT, marketing even, contract cleaning, maybe security. Payroll has become increasingly popular however because of the price of getting it wrong. It has no bearing on your company’s profits, mission, or growth in general, so why bother. Payroll is heavy on admin, and risky if wrong – either employees are miffed their wages are muddled, or the HMRC are penalising errors. A PEO has the time and the resources to do it for you, and the SMART Employment model means that they can offer to do it by taking over that portion of legal risk to your business.

Q. When would a business best benefit from a SMART Employment contract?

If you’ve come across SMART Employment before, or Co-employment sounds familiar, chances are you were either stuck on some sort of HR-related issue and looking for answers, or you were after a benefits scheme for your employees. Something like that. SMART Employment works well for businesses looking to increase staff performance, and essentially shape up HR. A decent example of benefits is a recent 2018 study by economists, Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer. The findings can be read in full here, but to sum it up what they were measuring was the size and scope of growing PEO usage. They found that small businesses using PEOs grew 7 to 9% faster, experience a 10-14% reduction in employee turnover, and because of the additional team of specialists at hand and increased corporate compliance, are 50% less likely to go out of business.

Q. So, Growth Partners is a PEO that offers the model. How does it work for you guys?

Not all PEOs are the same, but at Growth Partners what we’ve tried to do is optimise the level of support that we give. As part of the nine core services we offer, you get a specialist team to handle your full payroll process and a dedicated pensions consultant to kit your staff out with a plan to suit. To make your life easier, our developers have built the Growth Pro platform. It’s an exciting tool that offers a full suite of employee engagement services at no extra cost, and keeps both pensions and payroll management compliant and in one place.

Q. Why SMART Employment, and not just standard outsourcing?

With SMART Employment, an employer gets to keep full control. When it comes to outsourcing, often the employer will worry about whether the work is being carried out properly, and if anything goes wrong, the fine is sure to land at their door. The great thing about SMART Employment for an SME is that the risk element is removed. Because a PEO inherits a level of employee responsibility along with the workload, they are legally accountable for any penalties or infractions should they occur.

Q. So basically outsourcing made safer?

Yes. And not only that, there are many extra benefits that SMART Employment brings, a reason why the model’s been picking up steam since being introduced. SMEs often concentrate very heavily on cost-saving measures, for good reason. Whilst many employers would think that having someone in-house would be cheaper, for the smaller, more administrative tasks like payroll, it is in fact a smarter move, from a financial point of view, to outsource.

Q. Safer and* cheaper?

Even more than just cost, if you’re an SME looking for a practical solution to strengthen your workforce, our inclusive employee engagement suite offers just that. Perhaps you’ve been struggling to motivate staff to meet targets, or have been having issues with workplace wellbeing, say sickness leave is high, our support network of HR specialists can make a real difference. SMART Employment is all about broadening growth opportunities for SMEs, and if you’re an ambitious business owner looking for the next step, the SE option is a conversation worth having.


If you’d like to learn more about growing your business through SMART Employment, message us directly here or speak to an expert on 0116 340 3116.