Business Development & Marketing Cash Flow & Forecasting Finance General Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery Turnaround

Access to skilled workers and the EU referendum

worried businessmanA key issue for business in the June referendum on whether the UK should remain in or leave Europe is to consider the consequences that a “leave” vote could have on the free movement of labour.
Restricted access to skilled workers in the absence of suitably qualified UK candidates could have a big impact on small business’ ability to prosper and grow.
The two main issues are availability of skilled people and the cost of wages.
At the moment UK businesses have access to skilled people from across the EU and this has been crucial to many firms, in particular engineering firms and metal fabricators, where a UK shortage has meant having to recruit experienced engineers and welders from former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe.
There have been limited Government initiatives to boost apprenticeship numbers – the latest being to impose a 0.5% apprenticeship levy from 2017 on the payrolls of all businesses with a wage bill of more than £3 million. Others include offering small grants to smaller businesses to encourage them to take on apprentices.
However, after years of a lack of investment in training and skills, reducing the shortage of suitably qualified UK staff will take years and that assumes a serious commitment to training a future work force.
In an extremely turbulent and competitive global economic market businesses cannot wait that long.

Regulations, visas and a restricted labour market?

A second consideration is what would happen if, in the event of a majority vote for Brexit, recruitment were to be somehow restricted to UK natives in such a way that companies would have to provide evidence of a lack of suitable candidates before being permitted to recruit overseas.
Again agile and responsive 21st businesses may not be able to wait that long.
The scarcity of skilled candidates in UK means that businesses will find themselves competing for them which in turn will drive up wages putting further pressure on already tight margins.
The UK is still not investing anywhere near enough in training and skills for its own people. There is no denying that we have centres of excellence in universities and enterprise areas that can currently access capabilities from Europe, but these are not enough to support a dynamic and efficient economy.
Brexit would most likely result in businesses being constrained by having limited access to trained and skilled staff which in turn will push up wages for those with the skills and the necessary gap will not be filled fast enough to prevent a decline in capacity. Essentially the skilled work will move outside UK, to where the skilled workers are.
(Image courtesy of Vlado at 

Business Development & Marketing General HR, Redundancy & Trade Unions

A positive induction experience is key to performance and retention of new recruits

Recruiting staff can be a costly and time-consuming process for SMEs and doesn’t finish when someone is given the job. It is worth putting some time and effort into helping them feel welcome and also ensuring they become productive as quickly as possible.
A new recruit is likely to be nervous and apprehensive during their first few weeks and according to ACAS, the highest labour turnover is among new employees. It warns that employers should allow for a period of learning before they can reach peak efficiency.
An effective induction process can make all the difference and it is worth structuring the process to cover the important elements for both the employer and the employee so they settle in as quickly as possible.
Depending on the duties and responsibilities a number of key elements should be covered. Everyone needs general information about the company such as such as its values, employment terms and conditions, holiday entitlements and booking, safety training and any key policies on such things as discipline, sexual harassment, dress code, customer interaction, use of the internet and mobile phones etc.
The new recruit will also need relevant training for doing their job such as introductions to key people, learning about relevant systems, processes paperwork and filing and how to use technology.
It is also necessary to set expectations about performance and what is important and how these will be monitored and reviewed.
The induction process and relevant training should be structured over a period of time that helps the newcomer learn and absorb what they will need to know to do their job effectively.
Two things that can help to ensure an effective and positive induction process are a buddy system, where an existing staff member is paired with the newcomer to help them find their feet, and a feedback session once induction is completed to assess whether the process has been effective or perhaps needs some modification.

Banks, Lenders & Investors Business Development & Marketing Finance General Turnaround

How do you stay ahead of your competition?

In the choppy and uncertain economic climate of early 2015, while the outcomes of the UK election, Eurozone QE and the new Greek Government’s efforts to renegotiate its debts are still uncertain, investment in business and consumer spending are likely to remain muted.
Currencies fluctuate, commodity prices, not only oil, yoyo and business margins continue to be squeezed.
In these circumstances what can a small business to develop and grow rather than simply survive?
While it will be necessary to continue to keep a tight control on cash flow and to have a clear marketing strategy, the three main opportunities for growth are improving employee productivity, looking to new markets such as overseas, and innovation to offer a ground-breaking new product or service.
These drivers of growth rely on investment in marketing, equipment and R&D, but your competitors can copy this if they see it working.
Culture, however is more difficult to copy where getting it right is key to implementing change. People really are the greatest asset in a business.
In today’s highly competitive world change is the new normal and standing still is no longer an option.
Investing in people, their training, development and welfare is the best way of achieving growth as they are needed to implement the changes necessary to stay ahead of your competition.