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CIPD finds key to boosting SME productivity

11 September 2017

CIPD finds key to boosting SME productivityA Government investment of £13m a year would help boost workplace productivity in small businesses, according to new research.

A study by HR professional body the CIPD, supported by JP Morgan, has found that workplace productivity in small businesses could be improved if firms were given basic HR support.

The finding comes after the CIPD ran a series of year-long People Skills pilot schemes in Hackney, Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow, providing two days' free HR support to small firms, including face-to-face advice, a telephone helpline, online information and group training events. This simple support helped to boost productivity, according to the research.

The service helped more than 400 small businesses employing between five and 50 employees and was so successful in Glasgow that the city council continued to fund the programme once the research grant ran out.

The CIPD is now calling on Government to invest £13m a year to provide HR support to small businesses.

Ben Willmott, CIPD head of public policy, said: "If policy-makers are serious about addressing the UK's long-standing productivity deficit - particularly among the nearly 1.3 million small businesses that employ between one and 50 people - then they have to start seriously thinking about how to improve management quality, which the Bank of England's chief economist Andy Haldane has identified as a key area for focus. People Skills provides a template of how to actually do this on the ground among small businesses."

The CIPD says £40m from the Government's National Productivity Investment Fund would support the £13m annual cost of running a People Skills-type service across all 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England for three years.

A new survey by Breathe HR has found that heads of small and medium-sized businesses spend a fifth of their working week on basic HR administration, including managing staff expenses and absences.

Jonathan Richards, ceo of Breathe HR, said: "It appears there is little distinction between the strategic and transactional elements of HR within small companies. The danger is that as holiday requests pile up in a ceo's inbox, HR increasingly becomes seen as a box-ticking exercise, therefore undermining the positive impact a strong HR strategy, closely aligned to business ambitions, can have."

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