January 26, 2016, by Adrian Mateo

Economy and politics usurp recruitment as greatest concern for UK businesses

By Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check

Busienss Census 2016Recruitment is always a challenge, no matter what size your business or sector you work in. Finding the right people can be invaluable and for many business owners, the task of identifying, interviewing and securing talent is tough. Recent trends away from long term careers in one business and toward a much more flexible approach to career development has meant companies are working harder than ever to attract and retain great talent, too.

According to respondents in the Business Census 2016, a survey of 1,009 business leaders conducted by Bingham based Company Check in December 2015, recruitment was considered the greatest challenge by business leaders in the UK.

In 2016, the biggest challenge business leaders anticipate is the economy. This may come as no surprise considering the pending EU referendum and changes to minimum wage laws which will impact businesses across the country well into the future.

Concerns over political uncertainty have also taken priority for many, with a 40% rise in the number declaring this as their main concern from 2015 to 2016; up from 11 to 16 per cent. This follows increased terror threats following the Paris attacks and global unease due to the ongoing threat of terrorism, as well as changes within the British political parties indicating a lack of consensus around the best way forward in combating these threats.

Business in the East Midlands

Closer to home, the East Midlands was the region which reported the highest growth in 2015, with more than three quarters of East Midlands based respondents stating their business grew in terms of turnover. The West Midlands reported the second highest growth, suggesting the Midlands as a whole to be a strong growth region.

Simon Hall, business growth manager at Nottingham City Council, gave his thoughts on the region’s growth: “This striking evidence of East Midlands economic growth is very welcome and is broadly consistent with other encouraging growth statistics. It’s clearly vital that we maintain this momentum and while growth will continue to be inspired and driven by East Midlands businesses themselves, there are a number of exciting initiatives either underway or in development that will act as key enablers.

For instance local Growth Hubs are already working with a growing number of individual businesses to help them realise their growth ambitions, there are devolution deals at advanced stages of discussion involving most East Midlands local authorities which have the potential to give greater local control over resources and powers currently held by national governments, and the Midlands Engine initiative is likely to lead to further local freedom of action. All of this should have a major beneficial effect on future business growth.”

When asked about their opinions on the region’s growth, local manufacturing business Great Bean Bags’ creative director Patrick Tonks said: “Having reached full capacity in our previous premises and being hindered by lack of space, we moved production to a bigger factory in Nottingham at the start of last year. The extra space allowed us to buy and store raw materials in larger quantiles and was cheaper thanks to economies of scale, meaning we could scale up our manufacturing while reducing costs. For us, the central location of Nottingham and the availability of spaces like this has certainly contributed to our growth.”

Nottingham based foods producer Emma Woods of the Phoenix Group said: “For us, 2016’s going to be all about bigger volumes of the current lines which we’ve become experts in producing. By basing our business in the Midlands, we have been able to establish an effective distribution network and also secure the space we need without having to invest the large rental costs of the capital. We look forward to continued growth in the coming year as an East Midlands business.”

Experiencing business in the UK

The reason we decided to run the Business Census survey was that there are plenty of statistical analyses available to show us the numbers behind business, but few to tell us how business is experienced by those who immerse themselves in it every day. By asking the questions of business leaders, we were able to gain a real insight into the things that concern us most – and where the opportunities for growth lie.

Despite some turbulent times in recent years (let’s not forget, we’re still a country recovering from a catastrophic recession), almost three quarters of businesses surveyed (73.9%) predict growth for the coming year in terms of turnover.

The positivity overall reportedly came down to either marketing or production, both of which were cited as the highest growth departments. In investing in these important fulfilment areas, we show that UK businesses are now, perhaps more than ever, willing to put money and resource into doing more – a far cry from the firefighting approach we took early in the decade.

As digital marketing expert Tom Craig of Impression said in an analysis of the Business Census: “Marketing is an important element of any business’ success. As digital marketing has continued to grow in popularity and new tools and techniques make it easier to prove the value of marketing investments, more and more businesses and investing in this area.”

As we continue to move further away from the recession period, it’s important that we, as business leaders, drive growth through investment and diversification. A focus on retaining talent and allowing our people to contribute to our success will also be an important factor.

There’s no doubt recruitment and retention of talent will continue to be a challenge. As Shashi Kapoor of UK leading manufacturer Harvey Water Softeners said in his comments on the report, recruitment particularly outside of London is a struggle, especially in those careers such as manufacturing where demand outweighs supply.

However, it’s the economy which will be the make or break point for companies as we progress through the year. The decisions made within our government and the provision of support via local authorities and initiatives will be integral to business success moving forward.

For access to the full report from Company Check, visit http://hub.companycheck.co.uk/business-census-2016

Author Biography

Alastair Campbell is the founder of Company Check, the UK’s most used source of business data, accessed by over 3 million visitors per month who between them conduct more than 300 million searches each year as part of their due diligence processes.

Alastair started the business in 2011 from scratch and has grown it in the past 5 years with the support of his development team and external investment. Based in Nottinghamshire, he regularly contributes to business advice blogs and shares his tips and experiences via his own blog at http://hub.companycheck.co.uk

Posted in Business growthUK economyUncategorized