Although small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are largely looking forward to the current year with optimism, there are some specific challenges and risks they will have to face. None of these concerns are insurmountable however, and Alan Boswell Group is well-placed to help SMEs deal with some of the major issues likely to arise over the next 10-12 months.
Paying a living wage
The National Living Wage comes into effect at the beginning of April, from which point all employees over 25 must be paid at least £7.20 an hour. This will increase by 5% each year to 2020 when it will reach £9 an hour.
This may be a strain for SMEs. Obviously, this will be more of a strain for smaller businesses, pushing up operating costs and eat into what may already be a dangerously tight profit margin. Research suggests that total wage bills will rise by 0.3%, with 77% of SMEs fearing the new law will negatively impact their business. There is concern that the NLW will slow growth and affect recruitment policies. SMEs may respond by employing less staff, or more staff aged under 25 who may not have the same skill level or loyalty as older staff.
Ensuring your company has suitable employer’s liability in place could never be more important when a business is under strain and short of staff. Being under-resourced may mean employees are be pushed to carry out tasks above their capabilities or rush tasks due to lack of time, meaning accidents and errors are more likely to occur. Likewise, your public liability and professional indemnity insurance should also fully cover your company, in case your activities affect anybody outside of your company, such as customers or the general public.
Finding the skills you need
Finding, hiring and keeping a skilled workforce is going to be an increasing problem in 2016, thanks to a growing UK ‘skills gap.’ This is particularly hitting medium-sized companies employing 50-249 workers, especially in manufacturing and engineering sectors. Possible solutions include in-house training and apprenticeships or hiring more staff from overseas. The costs of recruiting staff are significant, therefore retaining the right staff once you’ve found them is vital. Providing employees with additional benefits in conjunction with their standard contract, such as private medical insurance, childcare vouchers or cycle to work schemes, can be regarded by staff as a key incentive and help them to stay loyal to their employer.
Our Employee Benefits Team works with a range of business both large and small to tailor specific packages to help your business meet its recruitment and retention objectives. Our advisers will use their experience of the sector and expertise to ensure your staff receive the package they need to hold your company in high regard, as a great employer.
Worrying about Europe
With a referendum on Britain’s place in the EU taking place on 23rd June, SMEs have no idea whether we will be in or out of Europe in 12 months’ time. This makes planning ahead difficult, especially for firms that do considerable business on the continent. Vital expansion and investment is being put on hold as SMEs wait to see whether Britain will exit the EU.
Whether its advice on risk management, insurance, investments, pensions, or employee benefits, at Alan Boswell Group we provide one port of call to get all the advice you need to fully protect your business.
Speak to one of our expert advisers on 01603 967967.