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Recruitment optimism for Midlands as SME confidence returns

Sara Abbott, Director for The HR Dept. North Birmingham commented: “This national picture was repeated here in the Midlands and I believe it clearly demonstrates the rising confidence amongst smaller businesses that this is a sustainable economic recovery.

“Whilst recruitment by the largest companies attracts all the headlines, the impact of half of all SME businesses in the UK recruiting before the end of the year would be truly significant and worthy of widespread media coverage.

“We undertake the survey as part of our annual client satisfaction work and whilst the results highlight the optimism surrounding recruitment, there was concern expressed from some SME business owners about extending the option to request flexible working hours to more employees.

“However, a larger number of business owners and managers believed the new rules to be fairer, with all staff now able to apply for flexible working. Over time they expect the move will lessen problems amongst the workforce, rather than exacerbate the situation of perceived favouritism for certain employees.

"Any employee can now request flexible working, but if the employer can demonstrate a valid reason for not allowing it, the request can be turned down, with no penalty. It is inevitable these changes will cause concern for smaller firms less able to absorb changes to working patterns.

“We advise a large number of SME businesses that are generally not large enough to have in-house HR resources and we’re working hard to show how the changes will actually be beneficial if handled correctly.

“The changes will allow businesses to retain skilled, experienced staff who may want to alter their working hours simply to suit changes in their lifestyle or family environment. Any business that allows greater flexibility is demonstrating how much it values its employees, and will surely benefit in the long run. It also marks these businesses out as the sort people want to work for, which will also help recruit the best talent in the future.

“The results of this survey confirm the shift in emphasis in the services we deliver to local businesses, with advice on recruitment and training superseding help with redundancies and restructuring. Growth of The HR Dept., also highlights the growing importance even small businesses now place on building strong working relationships with valued employees, which hasn’t always been the case.”

Alongside growing in direct response to the upturn in the UK's economic fortunes, The HR Dept is also benefitting from increasingly happy clients and winning business on recommendation.  The North Birmingham office scored 9.5 out of 10 this year for overall satisfaction among survey respondents, up from 9.3 last year.  Over half (59 per cent) awarded 10 out of 10 with the company scoring highly on advice, responsiveness and knowledge. Likelihood to recommend The HR Dept remained constant at 9.5 out of 10.          

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