SME news in brief: staff benefits, funding, HR, CBI

SMEs losing staff due to lack of benefits

Small businesses are suffering a staff brain drain with nearly one in five workers quitting each year for new jobs blaming poor employee benefits.

The study by Pure Benefits found 18% of staff – around 450,000 a year – have switched in the past five years saying a lack of benefits was a major reason.

Small businesses with fewer than 50 staff employ more than 12.4 million across the UK and have total annual turnover of more than £1.2 trillion, but struggle to source employee benefits such as life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance for staff.

Its research found 63% of small business owners are confused by the employee benefits options on offer and don’t know how to find cost-effective solutions for staff. More than a fifth of owners (22%) say they do not offer any benefits.

New funding for Liverpool-based businesses

Liverpool businesses are to benefit from increased funding to the region. SME funder, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has increased its funding to Liverpool businesses by 193% compared to this time last year from £4.3m to £12.7m.

Figures from BFS’ latest SME Confidence Tracker showed that over two-fifths (44%) of SMEs in the North West region are expecting sales to increase over the next three months, up from 37% at the end of 2015. Investment is also a focus for businesses in the region as they look to grow over the coming months. Two-thirds (66%) of SMEs are looking to invest in the next three months, with their main focus on existing and new staff as well as IT and commercial vehicles.

UK employees have concerns about training older workers

UK employees have significant concerns about the impact of older workers on the UK workforce.

According to research from Canada Life Group Insurance, a third of employees (35%) believe the most important issue will be the difficulty young people face moving up the career ladder, while a quarter (24%) say older workers needing to retrain or learn new skills to stay in work is most important.

The perceived increase in difficulty for young people to progress is high in the mind of both younger and older workers, with a similar response rate from those aged 18-30 and those over 60 (38% and 40% respectively). Workers in their 30’s were the least likely to see this issue as most important (29%), but instead view retraining of older workers as the biggest issue (35%).

SMEs optimistic about future orders

Conditions for the UK’s small and medium-sized (SME) businesses stabilised over the past quarter. This is according to the latest CBI Quarterly SME trends survey.

The survey of 441 firms reported that total new orders and new domestic orders edged up slightly in the three months to April, while export orders fell again.

But optimism about demand for exports over the year ahead also rose for the second quarter, with SMEs expressing greater confidence than larger firms.

Meanwhile, output was flat among small and medium-sized manufacturers, in line with the performance of the rest of the manufacturing sector, following a quarter in which they outperformed the sector as a whole. Expectations for the quarter ahead remained strong.