SMEs ill-equipped to deal with HR requirements

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MORE than two-thirds (70%) of small businesses in the West Midlands believe they are not properly equipped to deal with HR matters, citing legislative compliance, salary and discipline as their key concerns.

The statistics are published in a report by Viking, a provider of office supplies to SMEs. The survey questioned 2,000 owners or managing directors in the UK across a multitude of sectors including accountancy, hospitality, retail, manufacturing and healthcare.

The HR concerns are supported by over half (56%) of firms, which reveal that there is insufficient advice available for entrepreneurial businesses.

Of West Midland respondents, 35% said their accountant or bank manager would be their first point of call for advice, over government agencies or entrepreneurial advice sites.

Feedback showed, however, that despite these concerns, 64% had noticed a considerable increase in the number of start-ups over the past five years and a quarter (27%) had heard of no businesses closing in the past 12 months.

“New business start-ups are definitely becoming more common in the region and this had been acknowledged by most of the business owners we spoke to,” said John O’Keeffe, Commercial Director at Viking.

“HR is a concern for any business but for smaller businesses it can be magnified when staffing is limited and focuses may rest elsewhere. These results directly reflect this.”

More than a quarter of businesses (26%) said they were extremely positive about their business outlook and were anticipating growth, though staffing difficulties may be a barrier to this.