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September small business round up – latest SME news

In this month’s round up, the rise of flexible working and self-employment, support for better workplace mental health and a mixed economic picture.

Employees told: work when you choose

Proving that the buzz around flexible hours is not just hype, one business has launched a scheme which lets new staff choose the hours they want to work. Accountancy firm PwC says it will allow some new hires to set out their skills and preferred working hours when they apply. Rather than being appointed to specific roles, new employees will be matched to relevant roles. PwC said it aims to attract talented workers who don’t want to be bound by the traditional 9-to-5 working hours. It’s proving popular as 2,000 people have signed up to the initiative since it was launched. BAE successfully trialed project-based working which is task oriented rather than hours based which increased productivity and performance. If you are thinking about project-based working, keeping track of hours worked is simpler with a biometric attendance system.

Mixed economy

The economy brings a mixed bag of news. The government announced that a total of 3,918 companies entered insolvency in Q2 (Apr – Jun) 2018, consisting of 2,731 creditors’ voluntary liquidations and 752 compulsory liquidations. The highest number of new company insolvencies were in the construction industry (2,764) and were 2.9% up in the same period in the previous year. 2,197 new retail and wholesale companies became insolvent (unable to pay debts and enter liquidation, or enter administration) in the 12 months prior to June 2018.

The FSB commented that these small businesses had suffered from “a perfect storm of rising employment costs, spiraling business rates and high inflation.” Meanwhile the ONS reported that other sectors have benefited from the warm weather and football world cup with the services sector and some retail growing their GDP 0.3% during May to June this year.

Supporting good mental health at work

Mental health in the workplace in being put in the spotlight with a new initiative. Mental Health At Work, a new online gateway to resources, training and information which aims to improve approaches to workplace mental health. It follows the findings that almost half of UK employees faced a mental health problem at work (e.g. anxiety, depression) and that an estimated 300,000 workers lose their jobs annually due to mental health issues. Yet employers are often at a loss about how to deal with staff experiencing such problems – the portal aims to help employers and managers to support workers who disclose issues such as unmanageable stress.

The new web portal was unveiled by the Duke of Cambridge at an event in Bristol and was funded by the Royal Foundation charitable trust and developed with HR experts the CIPD and the mental health charity Mind.

Stressed commuters prefer home working

The number one reason for British employees wanting to work from home is the bugbear of commuting. Not having a stressful and time-consuming journey to work is one of the main benefits of home working that home workers really appreciate according to new research by World Options. Of those working from home, 45% valued being able to choose their own start and finish times, while 37% said they liked being able to choose what they wear. The appeal of working without constant interruptions was also included by 30% in their top three reasons for home working.

Rise in self-employment

If you’re a new start-up business, you’re not alone. The number of self-employed workers has been increasing – from 3.3. million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, according to government figures just released. In fact, the self-employed now account for 15% of the population. The appeal of working for yourself has seen rapid increases at both ends of the age spectrum, with self-employment tripling amongst age 65+ workers and doubling amongst 16-24 year olds since 2001.

However, the largest number of self-employed workers overall are aged 45 to 54. There’s speculation about the exact cause – it may be due to preferring flexible working or some people having no other choice.

Keep track of flexible-working with uAttend’s automated time and attendance system. It’s cost-effective and easy-to-use – an excellent workforce management solution for business, large or small.