News in brief: wages, hiring, HR, broadband, recruitment

'Work Your Proper Hours Day' approaches
'Work Your Proper Hours Day' approaches

SME employees only paid for two-thirds of work

On average, the UK’s freelancers and micro-businesses only get paid for 69% of the work they should be paid for.

Given that the UK is home to 5.2 million micro-firms and 1.88 million freelancers - this suggests that each business potentially missed out on thousands of pounds they were due last year.

This is according to research from FreeAgent to mark ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’, the day when people who frequently work unpaid overtime can finally wave goodbye to their unpaid days for the year, bill accurately and leave on time.

Analysing data from more than 40,000 small business customers found:

• Of the 10 million hours recorded and tracked by FreeAgent’s customers in 2015, 80% were classed as "billable" (i.e. time that customers could charge their clients for)

• However, a worrying 31% of this time was not “billed” meaning the UK’s freelancers and micro-business worked more than a third of their working hours for free.

In addition to not charging for all the work undertaken in 2015, Britain has actually seen a 15% rise in people working more than the maximum weekly 48 working hours. This is in stark contrast to countries who are introducing six hour working days (such as Sweden).

SMEs losing money due to unsuccessful hiring

Small businesses across the UK are experiencing a loss of growth and opportunities as a result of failed senior appointments. Around 90% of Venture Capital (VC) and Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fund managers have experienced an unsuccessful executive hire, which they cited as costing anywhere between 10% and 60% of lost annual growth in a portfolio company.

In addition, the new survey from Intramezzo reports that 80% of respondents have always or frequently failed to achieve expected business plan forecasts because of failed appointments, whilst 73% also reported missing commercial milestones. Lesser cited, but no less severe, ramifications include failure to attract further funding (70%), staff leaving (52%) and delayed exit plans (48%).

Intramezzo client director Georgina Worden comments: “Senior hires can make or break a business, not only in terms of initial investment support, but also when it comes to reaching business goals or maximising opportunities. If the UK hopes to find the next tech unicorn, organisations must invest in the necessary resources to aid the executive hiring process. Finding the right person to take a company where it needs to go isn’t an easy task, it cannot simply be a question of culture, for example. Mapping a person’s experience and skills against the business’ vision and needs is integral. Thankfully, an increasing amount of organisations are giving talent capital equal weighting to investment capital. These companies are set to thrive in the years ahead and gain a competitive advantage across the market.”

Review into business broadband access

A new review to improve business access to broadband has been announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

The review will build on the government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband which has already taken superfast speeds to an extra 3.5 million businesses and homes across the UK who would otherwise have missed out. This is on track to cover 95% of the UK by 2017.

This new review, led jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will specifically look at increasing the level of affordable and high quality fibre broadband available to businesses. It will assess what steps can be taken to encourage choice and competition which will help drive down prices while delivering a better service.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Developing new technologies, an extensive digital infrastructure, vibrant competition and consumer choice are all vital for UK businesses and central to the UK being at the forefront of ‘Industry 4.0’.

“That is why today I have announced a wide-ranging review of business broadband in the UK. As a one nation government I want every business, regardless of size or location to benefit from access to the fast, reliable connectivity they need to thrive.”

Daily cups of tea add up for SMEs

British workers are costing their employers thousands of pounds every year – just from making a tea round.

This is according to research conducted on behalf of energy comparison site, which discovered that an average employee makes three tea rounds per day – or 759 kettle boils per year, at an average of 2.5p per boil.

The findings point to an annual ‘kettle tax’ for employers of £84.20 per employee, with a company needing just 20 members of staff, doing their usual tea rounds, to rack up a yearly kettle bill of almost £1,684.

Those members of team, who can’t work without their morning coffee cost the business £141.20 each, per year. Again, with just 20 workers, employers fork out almost £3,000 a year. CEO Ivan McKeever said: “It’s interesting to see just how much tea rounds can cost businesses. To cut their bills, employers need to encourage their teams to perform energy saving techniques such as only boiling as much water as they need and only heating or cooling a room when needed.

“Even unplugging the kettle, or switching off at the plug, can save few pennies – and those pennies add up to pounds at the end of the year.”

SMEs missing out on mobile recruitment

Around 45% of job seekers use their mobile devices specifically to search for jobs at least once a day, yet only 12% of businesses intend to make mobile recruitment a priority for the next year.

According to HR professionals Jobatar, the top priority for 41% of businesses is the need to enhance employer brand, something that has become progressively more important as competition for the best candidates has increased. In the last year 48% said the biggest recruitment challenges faced by their company included a lack of skilled candidates, while 27% cited high competition for talent.

Jobatar’s founder Simon Hughes comments: “Companies are struggling to find qualified candidates that also align with internal culture to fill open positions. This is why it has become so important to promote a clear and defined employer brand; strong, accurate branding attracts more of the right candidates to apply.”

Hughes explains that mobile needs to be considered of equal importance to branding when it comes to talent acquisition. Mobile applications can take recruiting to the next level, and companies need to be able to promote opportunities to prospects whenever and wherever they are.