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Brexit, Skills Shortage And Employee Status – The Top Three Concerns For SMEs, Says The HR Dept Annual Survey

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An annual survey of SMEs by The HR Dept shows skills shortages, Brexit and confusion over employee status as the top three concerns affecting their businesses.

Respondents to the survey were more than 700 businesses in a variety of sectors, served by The HR Dept’s network of 65 independent outsourced HR experts in over 89 territories around the UK and Ireland.

Of those who responded, 37% said that skills shortages and also Brexit were concerns for their businesses, with 33% saying that questions over worker and employee status were having an impact.

Also high on the list of concerns were issues over staff retention (29%) and the National Living Wage and Minimum Wage (26%).

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, uncertainty over the impact of Brexit was the major talking point in the survey, with many businesses citing a number of specific concerns.

Chief among these was uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the economy, with 58% of respondents saying they were worried about it. Regarding their own businesses, 42% said they were worried about increased supplier costs and 18% cited concerns about access to EU labour.

By contrast, only 21% said they had no concerns about the negative effect of Brexit on their businesses.

A quarter (25%) said they were anticipating improved trading relationships with the rest of the world and a similar figure (24%) thought Brexit would have a positive impact on the economy.

However almost a third (32%) said they were not hopeful about Brexit at all.

Gemma Tumelty, Managing Director of the HR Dept, said: “Our survey clearly shows that the current economic and political environment is causing uncertainty and apprehension among the SME community.
“Businesses and the economy thrive on certainty, so we certainly hope that a positive outcome is achieved by Brexit negotiations, so that some stability can create increasingly fertile ground for business growth.

“The skills shortage is also clearly a concern and something which Brexit may further exacerbate, given that firms have traditionally looked to European labour to plug the gap.

“And with the report from the recent Taylor Review recommending imminent changes to employment statuses, potential new legislation is creating further uncertainty and the prospect of additional administrative burden on small businesses.

“These are difficult times for the economy and it’s a challenging landscape for SMEs. Their contribution to our GDP needs to be respected and heeded and their concerns listened to just as much as those of the big businesses which we believe tend to dominate our political dialogue.”

Businesses have their say on the performance of The HR Dept in the customer survey 2016

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Hundreds of businesses across the UK and Ireland have had their say on the performance of Licensees in the HR Dept Customer Survey 2016.

A total of 788 respondents gave their feedback on the advice and support given by 53 of the HR Dept’s Licensees in this year’s survey.

Results show an overall satisfaction level of 9.3 out of 10, slightly up on the figure from 2015 and approaching the all-time high of 9.35 given in 2014. Over half of respondents (52.2%) gave their local HR Dept a maximum 10 out of 10 score.

And when questioned on 11 aspects of their service provision, all but two categories showed average performance increasing in 2016.

The only exceptions were falls of just 0.1 out of 10 for Plain English communication (down to 9.4 from 9.5 our of 10) and value for money (down to 8.9 from 9.0 out of 10).

The majority of respondents in the survey are at the smaller end of the business spectrum, with over a third employing 10 staff or fewer and a further quarter (22.5%) employing between 11 and 20.

The survey shows a significant increase in demand for services in the spectrum of those offered by The HR Dept including Health and Safety, training, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and psychometric testing.

There was some good news for employees of the companies surveyed, with results showing that only a third of businesses were not planning to increase salaries within the next six months. Over a third (35.8%) expected to raise salaries by up to 2% with a quarter (24.8%) promising pay rises of between 2% and 5%. One in 18 businesses surveyed (5.5%) said they were going to raise wages by more than 5%.

However, recruitment was generally expected to fall slightly with redundancies on the rise. More than 5% of businesses surveyed were planning to drop staffing levels, up from just 2.7% in 2015.

Gemma Tumelty, Managing Director of The HR Dept, said: “It’s great to see customers satisfaction remaining incredibly high amongst customers of The HR Dept. The figures show that challenges remain for small businesses in the current environment HR has an important role to play in easing the burden of HR for business owners and allowing them to continue to grow and expand their companies.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fear and uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, says The HR Dept’s Annual Survey

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A quarter of SMEs fear the negative impact on their HR considerations if Britain votes to leave the EU, according to a national survey by The HR Dept.

Almost 800 businesses from around the UK took part in this year’s HR Dept Customer Survey, the results of which are now being collated [see notes to editors].

One of the questions in the survey was how the two possible outcomes of the EU Referendum on June 23rd would impact the HR functions of businesses.

Just over a quarter (25.4%) said Brexit would affect them “for the worse”, while only 5.3% gave a similar response in the event of staying in.

Neither result, according to the respondents, was likely to have much positive effect on their HR practices, with 13.9% saying staying in would change things “for the better” and 9.9% giving the same response in case of voting to leave.

Whereas almost half (45.9%) of respondents think staying in the EU will have no effect on the HR element of their business, only one in five (21.4%) reckon Brexit would have no impact.

The survey also shows that almost half (43.3%) of companies surveyed were uncertain about the effects of leaving the EU, whereas only one in three (34.9%) said that they “don’t know” about how a vote to remain would impact their HR function.

Companies which responded are from a variety of sectors and the full spectrum of size, with over a third having 10 employees or fewer and seven per cent being made up of more than 100 staff.

The HR Dept is based in Bristol and consists of a network of licencees, offering director-level HR advice and support in 80 territories around the UK and Ireland.

Gemma Tumelty, managing director of The HR Dept, said: “There is significant uncertainty amongst our respondents about the implications on employment law of a vote to leave the EU, in contrast to the responses about the prospects of staying in.

“What is important is that, no matter what happens on June 23rd, businesses of all sizes make sure that their HR functions are legal, robust and fit for purpose. Legislation, either from Westminster or from Brussels, is changing all the time and business owners need to be confident that they and their staff are compliant with whatever rules are in place.

“As ever, our survey offers an interesting snapshot on the concerns of small businesses around the UK. Those businesses make up the vast majority of our nation’s workforce and it is important that their voice is listened to.”


Notes to editors:

1. For more information about The HR Dept please visit

2. The annual HR Dept Customer Survey covers a range of issues facing SMEs, including views on the economy, employment prospects for 2016/17 and business confidence. Results are due in early July.

Issued by Rupert Janisch of Elmhay PR |m: 07929 660 586 | E:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016