News in brief: Christmas, skills gap, productivity, finance

News in brief
News in brief

Employees would prefer a bonus to a Christmas party

While only 47% of businesses will be offering their staff a Christmas bonus this year, 60% will be throwing a Christmas party, according to research from CareerBuilder. However, 86% of workers would rather have the bonus.

For those who are having a party, 16% of employers are holding a bigger Christmas bash than they did last year, while over a third (36%) are holding one the same size. Accountants are the most likely to have a bigger party, with more than a fifth (22%) of employers planning to increase their spend this year.

“Christmas is a time for festive cheer within the workplace and it’s important to celebrate the successes of the year just gone. Even though many employers won’t be holding a Christmas party this year, it is positive that the employers who are, will be hosting a bigger party than last year. It’s important to for both employers and employees to attend workplace socials to build strong working relationships which will result in a more successful future for the business,” said CareerBuilder HR director EMEA Janet Prosper.

Firms must invest in graduates to close skills gap

There is currently a lack of skilled candidates across the board in the UK, according to Peace Recruitment, which works across the construction, engineering and property sectors. Companies need to invest in young, ambitious and hungry talent now to prevent this problem from escalating in the future.

“The skills shortage is definitely spreading into other sectors, the level of candidate most companies are looking for is simply not there,” claims Peace Recruitment MD Chris Peace.

“We have just expanded our team, and we had to change our recruitment process, as we could not find the right skilled candidates we were looking for. So we have taken on two graduates and one other, all in more junior positions, but we will invest time and money in them to train them up. The level of candidate most companies are looking for, namely someone with relevant qualifications and at least two years’ experience, is not available across the board.”

Peace claims that the UK is feeling the effects of the recession when firms stopped investing in graduates to save money.

Workplace noise is a productivity killer

Workplace noise is one of the biggest productivity killers out there, according to a survey by office furniture provider Office Reality, 904.

The study revealed that men were slightly less distracted by noise than women, with 65% and 67% admitting that a quiet office makes them more productive respectively. Older office workers are more affected by office noise with 75% of over 55’s claiming that they are more productive in a quiet and calm office, while 60% of under twenty-fives also divulged that office noise makes them less productive.

EIF and iwoca team up to offer financial support to SMEs

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and online finance company iwoca have signed an agreement to help a greater number of SMEs gain access to finance.

The guarantee scheme will allow iwoca to lend £40m to more than 3,000 small businesses in the UK. The loans will be provided as a result of a guarantee from the EIF under the COSME programme with financial backing from the European Commission. iwoca's technology-driven risk platform automatically analyses thousands of data points for each application, allowing a business to get approved for up to £100,000 within hours.

EU commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “Thanks to EU funding, more than 3,000 SMEs in the UK will be able to access £40m in funding through new loans. I am very pleased to see that the Investment Plan for Europe is becoming a reality on the ground, creating new jobs and benefiting small businesses.”

EIF chief executive Pier Luigi Gilibert added: “I am pleased that we are signing the first EFSI SME guarantee agreement in the UK under the COSME programme. The online lending platform iwoca will give entrepreneurs rapid access to finance to help them create and grow their businesses.” A small business can apply for financing under the programme at