They Are Key To The UK Economy: How Can SMBs Move From Survive To Thrive?


According to the Department of Business Skills and Innovation, small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) account for 99% of all businesses in the UK, 59% of all private sector employment and 49% of all private sector turnover. These businesses will be playing a huge part in the economic recovery of the UK, and according to the Small Business Index, there are already signs of improvement – with an increase in staffing levels of around 15%. In fact according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs – published today (8 November), overall demand for staff rose at the fastest pace since June 2007 and there are higher vacancy levels for permanent and temporary workers, in  the public and private sectors and across all monitored job categories and regions. A great sign that UK recovery has begun.

The impact of the economic crisis with the accompanying pressures on cash flow and capital investment hit the SMB market particularly hard forcing many companies into survival mode. If SMBs or indeed any organisation are to thrive and play a key role in the UK recovery, they can’t afford to focus on the short-term. One area of development that can have a real impact on the success of a business organisation is employee engagement and optimising the management of this key asset can have a huge impact on the bottom line, this means that HR has a vital, strategic role to play.

Staffing and people management issues are the central and chief concern of the HR function, whether it is managing talent and giving staff the right opportunities, attracting and retaining the right staff into the organisation or simply the day-to-day issues of keeping staff productive and engaged.  With salaries currently rising due to the shortage of skilled workers it has become even more vital for HR to help organisations offer the best environment to attract and retain the best talent.

For an organisations to move from survival mode to a thriving business this will be an exciting and challenging time, HR Managers will need to innovate to get the best from each and every employee.  Freeing up HR time by automating HR and time and attendance processes for HR,  introducing fair and equitable absence management policies and supporting innovative ways of working such as job shares, flexible working, home and mobile working practices, means SMBs can steal a march on competitors by keeping employees fully engaged. Organisations that do engage their employees will attract and retain the best talent and ultimately benefit from greater workforce productivity and creativity, enabling expansion and recovery opportunities.

Read Aberdeen Research Report: Workforce Management for the SMB: Big Results for Small and Medium Businesses

Find out more information on automating your HR and Time and Attendance Processes


Absence and Employee Disengagement – What’s the Connection? announced that the top FTSE 100 CEOs including those of BAE Systems, Barclays, United Utilities, Marks and Spencer and Whitbread are concerned that the UK is losing around £26billion in annual output due to disengaged staff!

They should be concerned – employee engagement is ultimately all about performance.  If individuals are achieving their highest potential, the organisation as a whole will benefit. Customers will get better service, waste is reduced, efficiency is improved and overall performance is enhanced.  The workforce really becomes a competitive advantage. This all sounds good, and it is.  But the opposite is also true, low employee engagement leads to poor performance, it costs real money and must be tackled. 

Absence and tardy attendance is often an identifier for those who are less committed to the company, and often indicates an underlying problem.  Every organisation should measure absence levels across the workforce so that unscheduled absences are identified and, plans are put in place to understand the root cause and address the issue thus raising employee engagement – across the entire workforce.  

Low employee engagement doesn’t just manifest itself in those who are regularly absent from work, it has an effect on everyone else.  Someone close to me works in the fashion design industry and has recently moved job.  This move was made due to the high level of absence at her previous workplace resulting in additional pressure and workload for those that were present.  Records were not kept and the unscheduled absence was largely taking place unnoticed and certainly unaddressed by management.  When this happens, and/or lateness and long breaks also appear to go unaddressed, it’s the 70 to 80% of diligent workers who become disengaged.  To avoid this situation, and to reduce churn of your good employees, you need to know the size of your unscheduled absence issue and ensure managers are equipped to tackle an issue.

Using a real time automated workforce management solution an organisation can achieve visibility and control, absence can be managed down and productivity and performance boosted.  Increasing employee engagement and raising performance is an important element in any organisational strategy.  To make a start, capture the data you need to address unscheduled absence, you will then be on the road to ensuring your workforce are your competitive advantage and the customer experience is great and consistent.

In a future Blog I will discuss how automated flexible scheduling , which ensures the system is fair for all, can also be a good tool to engage staff as flexible schedules can be set to reflect an individual’s lifestyle and preferences.