It is well reported in the press that the UK has productivity problems. Productivity levels have not increased since before the financial crisis in 2008.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up 90% or more of the private sector and most are aware that there is a productivity problem in UK. They always believe the problem lies with “other employers” and none can see that it may start in their own business. There are many and varied reasons why productivity is low in UK, but some of it is because owners/managers of small businesses don’t recognise that they need support from HR.
They all talk about business challenges, not people challenges. A quick search on Google for the most common business challenges reveals: recruiting and retention; technological changes; Governance and legislation; Trust; financial management. All of these challenges can be helped by good HR support. Other challenges include Brexit; the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR); gender reporting.
What help can HR provide?
If you have read earlier articles we have published, you will already know some of the areas where HR intervention can help your business to grow and increase productivity – particularly in retaining staff and so reducing staff turnover and recruitment costs.
I have been talking to a variety of different employers in the last few weeks, as part of my search for feedback on the support that JMA HR could provide to them.
The response I hear quite often is that the business (whatever it is) “is too small to need HR support” or “never has any HR problems”. This is nearly always followed up by a story about a tribunal case they have had to defend, or some particular people-related issues which they have dealt with themselves “without needing to pay for HR”. They have quite often paid for legal advice and representation though. Of course, this has not factored in their time or lack of experience in these issues. It may seem cheaper to “do it yourself” but is it going to be quick, effective, a good use of your time, or to prevent further issues?
Where HR help is needed
Several employers had taken legal advice but not been prepared to pay for HR support. This is interesting as the legal advice is generally about “cure” and HR support is generally about “prevention”. There is, of course, an overlap, but my question to employers is whether it is better to spend at your own pace, and at a level you can control, on HR support? Alternatively you risk getting it wrong. You may well then have to spend on legal advice and support when it becomes urgent and at a level over which you have no control.
If you keep reading our articles, you will get support (at no cost) on a variety of issues which you may face from time to time.