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There’s a lot of talk this week around the HR struggles faced by small and medium sized businesses and the negative impact these tasks are having on productivity. Investing in HR systems or outsourcing even the most basic advice services can make a significant difference. EU discrimination is sadly on the rise with Brexit on the horizon and the over 50’s are on the lookout for work experience opportunities.
Small Businesses Seek Greater Support with HR
Two reports out this week suggest that small businesses urgently need help when it comes to HR.
The CIPD believes that small businesses need additional support in order to “unlock lagging productivity in the UK”. In a year-long ‘People Skills’ study, they found that by supporting small businesses, even with the most basic tasks, it enabled business managers to get on with work that would actually boost their business’s productivity.
The study focussed on 400 businesses employing between 5 and 50 people in three very different geographical areas – Hackney, Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow. It found that even two days’ worth of HR support, such as access to face to face advice, document templates and groups training events, meant that owner-managers were more likely to report their organisation was better or much better than similar firms in their sector on measures of workplace relations, labour productivity and financial performance.
The CIPD says that targeted investment could “improve small firms’ capability around the management of people”.
Meanwhile, further research out this week suggests that it’s the CEO’s of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who need additional support as they are losing a fifth of their working week to HR activity. Long lists of admin tasks, from signing off expenses to logging sickness absences, prevent CEOs from getting on with the job and leaving them unable to focus on strategic imperatives and the growth of their company. According to the research, CEO’s allocate the equivalent to £18,700 or 21 per cent of the median average salary of a CEO to these kinds of HR tasks.
It’s so important for companies to focus their highest salaried staff on more strategic tasks, that only they can do, yet it is very common, particularly in small to medium-sized companies, for CEO’s and senior managers to cling on to these jobs. In reality, it would be far more profitable for the business to employ or outsource this support, freeing them up to focus on more productive and, therefore, profitable tasks.
Brexit Causing Ructions in Jobs Market
Debate is rife this week around the wording of job adverts as there seems to be increasing evidence of discrimination towards EU nationals.
The jobs market is becoming a hostile environment for EU citizens in the UK with Politicians reporting evidence that employers are already explicitly discriminating against EU nationals ahead of Brexit.
According to The Guardian newspaper, Labour and the3million – a campaign group that promotes the rights of EU citizens living in the UK – have produced a dossier of more than two dozen examples of job, housing and other adverts asking for applicants of UK or Irish citizenship only.
Equalities Minister, Nick Gibb, has said the government equalities office “is aware of, and is looking into, the reports of discrimination against non-UK EU nationals seeking employment”.
Work Experience Rise for Over-50s
The over-50s are increasingly seeking opportunities for work experience according to the Department for Work & Pensions. One in five people signing up for the government-sponsored scheme in the last year have been over the age of 50. Apparently, more over-50s have benefited from work experience since January 2016 than over the preceding five years combined.
Work experience has traditionally been seen as a way of supporting younger workers, bridging the gap between education and employment, but perhaps this is a sign of the times as older worker seek to upskill themselves to complete in an increasingly digital workplace.
 ‘Government must invest in HR for small businesses’, Personnel Today, 11th September
 ‘CEOs of small businesses spending a fifth of their working week on HR’, London Loves Business, 12th September
 ‘MPs report evidence of 'Europeans need not apply' job adverts’, People Management, 13th September
 ‘Europeans need not apply: evidence mounts of discrimination in UK’, The Guardian, 11th September
 ‘Work experience boom for older workers’, HR News, 11th September
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