Business person

November small business round up – latest SME news

This month’s business news round-up brings updates on productivity, salary changes, Black Friday sales and the pursuit of happiness by workers.

Closing the productivity gap

Contrary to fears about the UK’s productivity problem, the latest figures show an increase in labour productivity by 0.9% in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2017. The ‘flash estimate’ by the ONS surprised many and follows on from the more detailed picture revealed for the previous, April to June, period when output per hour fell by 0.1%, up from a fall of 0.5% in the previous quarter.

The good news will cheer those worried about the UK  lagging behind  European and other countries. While progress is being made, experts warn we’re not out of crisis yet.

Business leaders brought together by government as the Productivity Leadership Group have argued that just small improvements in productivity across the ‘long tail’ of smaller firms would add £130bn to the value of the UK economy.

Low UK Salary increases for 2018

British workers are set to receive the lowest salary increase in Europe in 2018. The average UK worker can expect a 0.2% real salary increase which equals a pay rise of around £4.40 per month before tax. A combination of flagging productivity growth and high inflation means that the UK ranks 23rd out of 26 European countries surveyed. The average real salary increase – calculated as the difference between the predicted nominal salary increase and inflation – is expected to be 1% in France and 0.9% in Germany, according to HR consultants ECA.

Low paid worker salaries rise

It’s better news for the lowest paid workers in the UK. This November saw the voluntary living wage rise 3.6% from £8.45 to £8.75 per hour. In London the same payment will rise to £10.20 to take account of a higher cost of living. More than 3,600 UK employers currently pay the voluntary living wage affecting at least 150,000 workers. The higher rates were launched during Living Wage Week (5 to 11 November 2017) which seeks to counter the impact of high inflation, rising rent and transport costs on lower paid workers. It may also help companies in the face of current recruitment difficulties. NB: The Living Wage is separate from the government’s compulsory National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage.

SMEs to get in on Black Friday sales

Nearly 1 in 4 UK SME retailers (23%) are thinking about participating in Black Friday 2017 – that’s 14% up on last year. New YouGov research reveals that 82% of those participating expected to sell more stock on Black Friday than on an average day. Online sales were expected to be especially popular.

This year Black Friday falls on 24 November in the UK. While some bemoan this latest American import – where it traditionally takes place the day after Thanksgiving – it has taken hold as a prominent shopping day in the UK since Amazon introduced it in 2010. Last year UK shoppers spent £1.27 billion in the 24-hour Black Friday period, an increase of 16% on 2015; with a huge £5.8 billion spent in total in the period from Black Friday to the following ‘Cyber Monday’, up 15% on 2015.

Working towards happiness

As the year hurtles towards its close, over a third of workers (39.9%) says they are unhappy in their current job. As a result, 96.7% of these workers say they are looking for a new job, according to a recent survey by recruitment firm CV-Library. The survey of over 1,200 workers found that job dissatisfaction was driving them to seek employment elsewhere. Low job satisfaction was expressed in many sectors eg. hospitality (53.3%); engineering (44.8%), charity (43.8%), retail (42.1%) with the chart being topped by marketing (57.1%), legal (54.5%). Experts reminded employers about the importance of keeping an eye on employee wellbeing including progression and development opportunities.

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