New research reveals that small to medium sized business owners in the UK are neglecting to provide staff with adequate training and development support, with almost half (47.6%) of those surveyed feeling that their boss doesn’t take their personal development seriously, and a quarter (27.90%) admitting to having never discussed training or personal development at all.
While the recession may have forced some SME owners to focus their priorities elsewhere, with the economy slowly improving employers need to place a renewed focus on providing structured personal development to avoid staff losing motivation and becoming unengaged, a scenario which directly impacts productivity, morale and ultimately the success of the business.
The Personal Development in the Workplace study, also reveals that the majority of respondents (66%) haven’t been provided with any kind of personal development plan, so are essentially working day-to-day without any long term focus.
However, the research highlighted that process doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness, as despite staff in companies of between 51-250 being 16 per cent more likely to have a development plan, staff actually feel more engaged and discuss their personal development more frequently in small companies of 1-10 staff.
The regional picture also reveals some interesting trends. Notably, that respondents in Scotland feel the most engaged at work, with 62 per cent believing their employer takes their personal development seriously, which is 18 per cent higher than in East Anglia where less than half (44.62 %) felt their personal development was a serious focus for their boss.
In addition, despite being the UK’s largest centre for employment and industry, London and the South East is actually one of the worst regions in terms staff development, lagging behind the majority of the UK (see report for breakdown).
Reacting to the findings, Jonathan Richards, CEO & founder of breatheHR, said: “The results clearly show a fantastic opportunity for small to media sized businesses to gain competitive advantage by spending time developing employees.
“The good news is that it needn’t cost a fortune and with relatively little effort they will increase productivity and reduce costs.”
Over 120 million transactions are lost each year in the UK through people leaving shops because they can’t pay by card, according to new research from Judo. A further 92.8 million opportunities to sell are lost through people avoiding shops because they don’t accept card payments.
Over one in five (21%) consumers said that they had left a store in the past six months without making a purchase because the store didn’t take cards. Almost the same number (19%) had avoided a store altogether because they couldn’t use their card to pay.
Further research from Judo found that the majority (70%) of consumers prefer to pay with a card than cash for everyday purchases. Judo also discovered that 61% of UK consumers would spend more with a business if it took cards, while none of them would spend less.
Businesses in London are most likely to miss out if they don’t offer card payment services – half (50%) of consumers in the capital have left a shop in the past six months because they couldn’t pay by card. On average, Londoners walk out of shops 8.6 times a year because they can’t pay by card. They’re also the most likely to avoid a shop if it doesn’t take card payments. On average, people in the capital claim they do this more than 7 times per year.
Younger shoppers are the most likely to take their business elsewhere if they can’t pay by card. Three out of five 18- to 24-year-olds (59%) admit to walking out of a shop in the past six months because they couldn’t pay by card.
Dennis Jones, CEO of Judo, explained: “Card payment equipment has not kept pace with technology and it’s become too expensive and technically complicated for many to use, which is why there are so many small retailers who still don’t take cards. We’ve developed a secure way for everyone to take card payments, either using the judoPay smartphone app or via an automated phone service. Retailers and traders can be up and running with Judo within minutes and never lose a sale again.”
Online payments provider GoCardless has launched a new online Direct Debits payment tool to enable greater numbers of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) around the UK to collect variable one-off and recurring payments by Direct Debit.
Traditionally only larger, more established businesses such as utilities providers and mobile operators have been able to access the digital infrastructure banks use to underpin the Direct Debit system.
But GoCardless allows any business or individual to tap into the Direct Debit network. The business has been making such payments available to SMEs since November 2011.
Commenting on the launch, founder Matt Robinson said: “Direct Debit is the most reliable way to take payments but for a long time small and medium sized businesses just haven’t had that option. GoCardless gives them instant, easy access to the payment method that larger competitors have been using for years. With this new development to our service, it’s more convenient and easier than ever.”
£300 million will be invested alongside private investors to address long-standing gaps in the SME finance market. This money is the first deployment from the £1 billion of new capital allocated to the business bank in the 2012 Autumn Statement. It will build on the success of the Business Finance Partnership to leverage at least the same amount in private sector investment.
The focus is on promoting greater diversity of debt finance available to SMEs by encouraging the growth of smaller lenders and new entrants in the market. Investments will be made via new and existing lending channels on a commercial basis.
New research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) highlights that SMEs have been disproportionately affected in their ability to access finance as a result of the contraction in bank lending since 2008.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: Small and medium sized businesses are still telling me that access to finance is their number one problem, preventing them from investing and growing. That’s why through the business bank we are developing a range of measures to provide businesses with the power to choose the type of finance that suits them.
“Today’s £300 million boost shows we are serious about increasing competition and diversity in the business lending market. Establishing a lasting business bank institution is a long-term project, but getting this money reaching SMEs as soon as possible is the first step.”
The whitepaper, entitled ‘The Coupon Renaissance’, revealed that 76 per cent of consumers would buy more from local businesses if they offered coupon incentives. With many small local businesses struggling in today’s economic climate, the figures offer a positive outlook that SMEs should capitalise on.
The surge in coupon redemptions is a relatively new phenomenon; with the current economic climate increasing popularity, the UK has witnessed a sharp 14.7 per cent spike in usage since 2008. The research also showed that an impressive 80 per cent of consumers have redeemed a coupon in the last year, and half (49 per cent) of customers redeem them as frequently as one per month.
Colin Forrest, head of marketing for UK and ROI at Pitney Bowes, said “Small businesses ought not to be intimidated by the extensive variety of offerings and heavy discounts provided by larger organisations. Our research revealed that as many as 85 per cent of customers would go to the effort of redeeming a coupon, which offered a discount of as little as 10 per cent. Therefore it is important that this marketing tool is not seen as a cost drainer, but rather an effective return on investment. In a society of increasing choice and consumer autonomy, small businesses should not underestimate the power of the coupon as a strong marketing pull.”
The whitepaper also revealed that the overriding reason customers don’t redeem coupons is because they fail to note the expiry date in time. A total of 39 per cent are missing out on great incentives for this very reason.