UK SMEs Plan To Grow According To Survey

(1 min read)

A recent government survey reports nearly three quarters of Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) plan to attack their markets prioritising growth and service improvement with new business sales, staff up-skilling, process improvement and recruitment high on the agenda.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s survey  focused on SME growth plans and the obstacles they expect to face.

New Business

71% of companies said they planned to grow sales while nearly half cited market competition as their main problem. This might indicate reduced demand and overcapacity in some sectors which means competitive edge must be the priority to sell more effectively and retain business.

Sales and Marketing success relies on a robust product/service proposition, a structured engagement and delivery process and of course the right talent to make it all work.

Before rushing out to direct or find new staff consider reviewing and possibly redefining the company business plan and strategy. What relevance does your product/service range have? Why do people buy from you and how are they behaving? What do you do differently and why does that matter? Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Where do you stand in terms of price and quality? What opportunities are out there? With all of that in mind, what do you want?

In short, reassess the market proposition and strategy to ensure your staff are well placed to achieve your goals. You’ll also stand a much better chance of securing quality talent with a confident, inspirational and well thought out strategy.

Up-Skilling, Training and Business Improvement

53% said that increasing the workforce was a priority while 61% intend on up-skilling existing staff over the next three years. Great news!

Given the economic climate and the risks associated with bad hires, it’s well worth taking the time to properly map out business critical requirements before investing in staff or training. Successful recruiting requires two main elements. A thorough, clearly defined and realistic job description and an equally robust interview and evaluation process. Hiring Managers recruiting on assumption, speculation and emotions frequently make poor selection decisions so, decide to invest time in fully preparing to recruit.    

Recruiting quality staff is challenging but keeping them can be even more so. Investing in training is a great way to motivate, reward and demonstrate you value their contribution – three key elements in job satisfaction. Ensure that your training choices are in line with the company’s needs and critically, invest time into an implementation strategy. Consider the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy. So much training knowledge is wasted because business leaders fail to facilitate opportunities to practically use and share new concepts, skills and techniques. Instead, get involved and see staff training as an opportunity for your business to improve and evolve.

Brexit Smexit

Interestingly, 71% of business leaders don’t consider Brexit to be a threat contradicting media scaremongers hell bent on convincing the country otherwise. Sure, people are concerned but what can they really do about consequences of exiting the EU? If the economy contracts and customer demand falls inevitable casualties will ensue however, you can safely predict they will be the hesitant MDs running shaky businesses with poor investment, mediocre products or services and low quality staff believing they can simply cut costs and weather the storm.

Whatever the future may have in store it would seem optimism is rife among the SME community despite the so-called economic uncertainty. In fact, the ‘glass half full’ perspective says that uncertainty doesn’t have to spell bad times. In fact, the very nature of uncertainty means things could well be fine! Either way, it’s business as usual for us all.  

Good Hunting.


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Employees Secretly Recording Meetings May Not Be Gross Misconduct

(30 sec read)

An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that staff covertly recording conversations spoken during meetings at work may not always be considered as gross misconduct. In fact, the tribunal stated that it is acceptable in specific cases when, for example, an employee may be concerned about misrepresentation.

In this case, Tatiana Stockman, former employee of Phoenix House charity, believed she was unfairly dismissed following an irreconcilable disagreement with her manager. During the tribunal, Stockman admitted to recording private meetings at work. In response, Phoenix House’s legal team argued that recording workplace meetings without consent was ten demount to gross misconduct inferring that Stockman’s claim for unfair dismissal should be thrown out.  

Instead, the EAT sided with Stockman and upheld the tribunal’s ruling on the grounds that Stockman’s motivations for recording the meeting were understandable and needed to be taken into account.

This case sets an interesting precedent for staff and managers everywhere. With most people owning smart phones with recording features, there can be no doubt similar cases will continue to arise.


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Are Your Hiring Managers Leaving Your Business Vulnerable?

(2 min read)

Managers are paid to lead, organise and motivate. Most have successfully risen through the ranks before being rewarded with management opportunities to inspire others to follow in their glory. However, despite their professional strengths they are unlikely to have ever received formal training on how to interview and recruit someone.

Business leaders far and wide routinely overlook this key management skill rarely giving a thought to the risks and consequences that lay in wait should things go wrong, which they often do.

Here are 5 of the biggest risks your company faces without trained Hiring Managers:

Business Critical Vacancies

By far, the number one reason for costly selection mistakes or outright recruitment failure is a poorly executed recruitment process. From the very start, Hiring Managers need to know how to identify a business critical need to justify personnel investment. It’s amazing how many people are hired on a whim without any meaningful evidence they were ever needed in the first place.

Focus on the business critical need. It will dictate the role’s objectives which in turn highlight the essential skills, experiences and personality traits needed from someone to deliver. If the role falls outside of the Hiring Manager’s experience, do not allow them to guess. Hire a suitable consultant to map the vacancy first. Now armed with a job specification aligned with the business’s needs, the Hiring Manager is now ready to interview candidates.

Do not allow them to recruit on a hunch. If they fail to properly plan, expect to lose £thousands in bad decisions, lost time, recruitment fees and salaries.


You would be amazed to know how many Hiring Managers ask sexist questions, often without realising it’s wrong. “What’s more important, career or family?” “Are you married?” “How do you feel about using your womanly charms with clients?” Aside from blatant prejudice, often the problem lies in dominant commercial thinking, putting the needs of the company ahead of the person. You don’t have to be a man to be sexist either! Women can be just as bad, be it with men or falsely believing their gender gives them the right to ask other women inappropriate questions.

Be sure your Hiring Managers have a well thought out interview plan and avoid discrimination related questions at all costs or suffer the embarrassing internal and public consequences. It’s only a tweet away!

Halo effect

A classic recruitment selection scenario costing companies all over the UK £millions every year. Put simply, it’s where an untrained Hiring Manager hits it off with a candidate after discovering how much they share in common. Blinded by feelings, they select the candidate above other more qualified people. The halo effect causes emotional decision making and often results in poor selection choices. Stick to the facts and consider social matching to be a bonus, not a priority.


Let’s be clear – Despite staggering frequency, its not OK to ask someone how old they are or base selection decisions on age. No exceptions. Contrary to popular assumption, ageism can occur at any time of life depending on the scenario. In short, if a Hiring Manager declines a candidate because of their age, its illegal. Anyone suspecting ageism can pursue a claim through the courts. Win or lose, the process may tarnish your business with an unwanted reputation for discrimination. Judge people on their professional suitability and recruit accordingly.  You might be surprised what advantages you can gain from a more diverse team offering wider ranges of experience, learning opportunities and cultural influence. 

Ego Threat

Good Managers want the best team even if some of the superstars perform better than the Manager themselves ever did. Really good Managers are confident in their ability to get the best out of people and enjoy helping them develop and progress even if that means reporting to them one day. However, weak Managers, without adequate training, are often guilty of selecting equally weak candidates to reinforce their position in the company. These Managers tend to have inflated egos and despite their denials, prefer agreeable staff.  Commercially, this is holding your business back stifling innovation and causing toxic environments for anyone with ambition. A sure-fire way to lose talent and market share to more progressive, open minded competitors.

This little list of five is far from exhaustive and while serious they are all easy to manage out of your business. Taking the time to properly address them with preventative measures and training will save you £thousands every year and ensure your business if protected from legal action and negative PR.


Our expert IT recruitment consultants are here to take the pressure off you when recruiting someone new, permanent or contract. We liaise with candidates with the utmost care to ensure that their candidate experience is a positive one. Call us on 0207 788 6600 and let us help you Recruit Someone Worth Recruiting.


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