Calling SME’s –People Make the Difference8 Apr 2016

Over the past few years our Government has told us how important we (Small & Medium Enterprises) are to the UK. Well I didn’t know until I read recently that we contribute £1.8 trillion pounds to our economy.

SME’s account for three fifths of the employment and almost half of turnover in the UK private sector. At the start of 2015: total employment in small businesses was 12.4 million (48% of the total), whilst turnover was estimated at £1.2 trillion (33%). SME employment was 15.6 million (60%) and turnover £1.8 trillion (47%) employment in large businesses was 10.3 million (40%) and turnover £2.0 trillion (53%).

Pretty big numbers. Trying to get my head around which part of the £1.8 trillion is coming my way.

All very interesting, but the point of this post is to outline how important the overlooked function HR is to SME’s.

Traditionally HR, or Personnel, has been an administrative function, especially in SME’s. However, as a business leader of an SME have you ever considered just how important your people are to your business?

The challenge right now, and ongoing, is the expectation of the Government and the public that SME’s will continue to grow and improve productivity, in what is already a challenging environment.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make here is that SME’s play a major part in the economy and employ a large % of our working population. I read an article recently which really emphasised the importance of us, leaders in the SME environment, regards people leadership.

SME’s face increasing challenges and costs, from the pension legislation, the new national living wage to Global commercial concerns, such as the worrying state of the economy in China.

Reflecting upon that let’s look what really counts for your business. Productivity, enthused people driving your business, and business brand and standing. After all if your brand is worth nothing, your business may follow.

There are issues which as an SME employer you should consider. Real basics, which research found don’t exist in many firms. Do your people have clear Job Descriptions, oh and by the way do you hire against these and good Lord would you by any chance have a Person Specification?

I’ve worked with News UK and their hours were pretty unsocial. Great if you like working nights, hey maybe avoids seeing your partner (joking), but I doubt it, as hopefully many of us don’t feel that way. That said some jobs require unsocial hours, maybe you run a restaurant or a night club? Think about how you approach this in terms of hiring, and ensure those who want to take on the role understand the requirements, but remember as the great employer you are you need to consider flexibility sometimes, and most certainly you must comply with the law.

I did hear one organisation say that HR brought in a firm structure to their pay and reward approach. You may well need HR to advise you on this, but from a personal viewpoint the benefit of having someone from HR involved in this is to advise on what approaches you may wish to adopt. Really good HR people will make a difference to your business by advising you on “best practice” and competitor activity, not by handcuffing to a formal approach to reward. There are really good HR people out there who can make a significant difference to your business.

I guess this then leads me to the bit I didn’t want to talk about, because let’s face it, it is seriously boring. Procedures and policies. My word do I hate myself for blaspheming by using those words, and hope any other decent HR people out there will forgive. However, in SME’s I have found that these small things are often lacking. Fine don’t bother with having a Performance Management System, why would anyone want feedback on how they are doing, or want a little guidance, or praise now and again. Equally I bet you have a brilliant process for hiring people, who aren’t friends or relatives. More interestingly why would you need a conduct procedure, hey no one ever does anything wrong, well maybe there was the occasional punch up or a little bit of theft, or maybe someone said on social media your company is “pants” but don’t worry about it.

One thing you don’t need is anyone thinking that the secret to success is to know who to blame for their own failures.

When hiring have you ever asked “Why did you leave your last job? And get the response the Company relocated and didn’t tell me where…” Just think about your recruitment practices.

If you are happy in your business have you ever thought “my job is secure. No one else wants it!” Well they might want to challenge your business, so ensure your business is completely strong, and that your people are engaged and driven to ensure you never feel like you want to ask that question.

Guess none of those things ever happen in your business?

Unfortunately the reality is that all of these issues surface in a business, whether it employs 5 people or 5000. People issues are people issues. SME’s are at the forefront of our industrial environment, and ensuring you have engaged, motivated and skilled people is critical to any businesses success. Consequently instead of thinking of HR as a cost or overhead, think about what they deliver and realise HR can be and should be a profit centre…

Your SME needs HR, whether you have thought about that right now. Don’t go straight to your lawyer when you have issues, engage your people and continue to make your business a success.

Please feel free to contact me, Gareth Williams at Azureus Ltd on 07850 882163, or email could be the best move you make in taking your business forward.

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