SME news in brief: flexible working, Brexit, HR, productivity

UK employees favour flexible working

Flexible working is the most favoured perk among employees in the UK, with 35% of participants listing it as their top one.

However, the same research from facilities and building maintenance specialists Direct 365 also showed that flexible working may not necessarily be the saving grace everyone was hoping for, with one in three people expressing concern that traditional office culture could be lost if more of their colleagues work remotely.

In June 2014, all employees in the UK were given the right to request flexible working from their employer after 26 weeks of employment, as the government attempted to encourage a more favourable work-life balance nationwide.

SMEs continue to battle Brexit uncertainty

Business owners are becoming increasingly wary of the impact of a potential Brexit with 81% of respondents felt that Britain leaving the EU would negatively impact their business, up 13% from June 2015.

This is according to the latest Smith & Williamson Enterprise Index. Smith & Williamson head of entrepreneurial services Guy Rigby said: “When we first sought business owners’ thoughts on Brexit, the Conservative Party had just been elected and a potential Brexit felt quite remote. However, as we approach the referendum date, business leaders are seemingly more apprehensive about the prospect of leaving the EU.”

There were also worries for businesses that export. Those who expected their turnover to increase over the coming year declined 12% since the end of the last quarter. There was a concern over the financial health of trading partners, only 55% believed their health was improving, a seven point decline over just three months.

Empowering young people to forge their own careers

Teaching a more holistic skillset will ensure more graduates secure high-quality work.

Official figures published this week that show a decrease in the number of graduates in skilled work are indicative of a need for more young people to be empowered to forge their own career paths, rather than always following a pre-defined route, according to global non-profit organisation and awarding body ABE.

The figures have revealed a 2.2% year-on-year decline in the number of 21 to 30-year-old graduates in skilled work, with around one in five graduates in low or medium skilled jobs on average across the entire working population. In an era where there appears to be too many graduates and not enough jobs to match their skillset, ABE believes a solution lies in fostering an evolution in culture when it comes to new graduates entering the employment market.

UK workers claim to be less productive than other European countries

UK workers believe that over 36% of their time spent at work was unproductive.

This is according to research gathered by employee engagement and consumer insights experts Qualtrics, which found that all other European workers rated themselves as more productive than those in the UK.

For British business owners and managers these figures are worrying. In light of recent rises in national living wage and other government cuts affecting many businesses, it is important now more than ever, for staff to be as productive as they can be within working hours.