Delegation – when SME owners can’t do it all

Ask any small business owner and they’ll no doubt tell you that setting up on your own brings pressure like no other. In short, you’re suddenly responsible for your own livelihood and all decisions rest on your shoulders. This pressure is unrelenting too, and as your business grows so do the risks. Pressure can drive you to thrive and we know from our own research* that SME owners are flourishing as the greater responsibility and freedom they are afforded spurs productivity and their overall wellbeing. However, there is a balance that should be recognised between taking the lead and managing the pressure and associated stress of spreading yourself too thinly. AXA PPP healthcare’s research also revealed that a third of SME owners felt they could delegate more, and nearly half believed that their work spilled over into their home life.

*This research was conducted in June 2015 on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare among owners of businesses employing 30 or fewer staff.

Prioritising who is responsible for specific job functions can help in fostering workplace wellbeing. It gives autonomy to others and leaves you with more time to concentrate on where you can add value. Therefore, SME owners have an opportunity not only to increase their own wellbeing and productivity but also that of their team and, in doing so, the overall health and prosperity of their business.

To find out what else we discovered from the research, visit our NEW SME page dedicated to our findings.
www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/business-health-centre/business-resources/inside-the-minds-of-smes/

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BCC: ‘Gutless’ runway delay bad for business

Commenting on the latest delay to a government decision on a new runway in the South East, John Longworth, BCC Director General, said:

“Businesses will see this as a gutless move by a government that promised a clear decision on a new runway by the end of the year.

“Business will question whether ministers are delaying critical upgrades to our national infrastructure for legitimate reasons, or to satisfy short-term political interests.

“Businesses across Britain will be asking whether there is any point in setting up an Airports Commission – or the recently-announced National Infrastructure Commission – if political considerations are always going to trump big decisions in the national interest.

“The Commission has said that a new runway should be built at Heathrow, and quickly. Expansion at other airports is needed too. Ministers need to stop prevaricating and get on with doing what the country sorely needs.”

Running away from runway decision

It’s disappointing that there is to be further delay on a decision on whether or not to build a third runway at Heathrow.

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce added its weight this week to the call for air expansion but, once again, a decision has been kicked into the long grass.

The national Chamber body last night called the indecision ‘gutless’, saying it would have adverse economic consequences.  A Chamber letter to the Prime Minister said expansion was a “no brainer”, in that it would enhance regional connectivity, improve long-haul connections, while boosting exports, investment and tourism.

Read more on the announcement and the background to the arguments around airport expansion on the BBC website here.

BCC: Employer engagement in education boosts students’ job prospects

As business and education leaders come together (Thursday) at the British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) first Business and Education Summit*, the BCC has published findings from a major UK-wide survey of over 3,500 businesses and educators highlighting the significant benefits of partnerships between schools and businesses.

The vast majority of educational establishments (88%) partnering with businesses said the most important benefit was improved outcomes for their pupils.

The education leaders surveyed also stated that employer engagement has a clear benefit for their pupils, including: greater awareness of the soft skills that businesses value (74%); increased motivation in lessons (73%); better careers information (52%); and lessons which are more relevant and connected to the world of work (46%).

Business leaders reported that the main reasons for partnering with a school were to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility (43%), to identify future employees (38%), and to increase awareness of different jobs and career paths (35%).

However, both business and education leaders reported a number of barriers preventing them from building lasting and effective partnerships. For businesses and educators respectively, this included staff time (53% / 64%), and administrative burdens (36% / 41%). Businesses also cited cost as a factor (38%) while some educators identified a lack of interest from business (42%).

Commenting, John Longworth, BCC Director General, said: 

“Long-lasting and effective partnerships between schools and employers improve young people’s job prospects and provide businesses with the skills they need.

“Our survey highlights the many benefits of employer engagement for businesses, educators and pupils, and there are already some great examples of effective school and business partnerships across the country**.

“However, successive governments have focused too narrowly on academic outcomes alone, allowing the gap between education and business to widen in the name of testing.  We must overcome the perceived hurdles, such as staff time constraints and a lack of interest from business, to encourage more schools and firms to bridge the gap.

“We are proud to bring together leaders from the world of education and business to discuss how we can overcome the obstacles and promote partnerships at our first Business and Education Summit. It’s time for business and education to stand together and make skills shortages a thing of the past.”

Further findings from the survey:

  • Just over eight in ten (81%) educational establishments surveyed partner with businesses to provide workplace activities.
  • Educational establishments partner with different types of businesses but local small businesses are most popular (76%), with local larger businesses just behind (66%). This is closely followed by charities and not-for-profits (66%), public sector bodies (60%) and national businesses (52%).
  • Just over half of businesses surveyed (54%) partner with educational establishments. 85% of businesses that say they partner with schools and colleges have a relationship with two or more.
  • Of those businesses surveyed we found that a greater proportion of large firms currently have links with schools. 82% of large businesses partner with an education establishment, in comparison to 68% of medium firms, 55% of small businesses and 39% of micros.
  • Business and education partnerships tend to be with institutions for older students. Secondary schools (70%), FE colleges (55%) and universities (48%) account for the majority of partnerships. Only 18% of primary schools and 4% of nurseries partner with a business.

 

Rail franchisees named

Two new franchisees for the Northern rail networks have promised to oversee a £1.2bn boost to services.

The operators have promised 500 new carriages and 2,000 extra services with room for 40,000 more passengers.  The franchises will be jointly managed from Leeds by the Department for Transport and Rail North – an organisation representing 29 Northern authorities.

Arriva will take over the UK’s second largest franchise, Northern, from Serco-Abellio in April 2016 for nine years.  The TransPennine Express franchise transfers from First Group/Keolis to First Trans Pennine Express, also next year.

Longer trains and extra services between Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield are promised, plus a £400m investment in new carriages.  A £55 million investment in stations is also featured.

Both franchisees will continue to roll out electrification and better wi-fi access, while the unpopular and outdated Pacer trains will be phased out by 2019.

Mike Cartwright of West & North Yorkshire Chamber commented:

“The Chamber had lobbied for franchises that support growth so the proposed investment in rolling stock and stations, etc is welcome.  Northern Rail will be understandably disappointed but rail travel has never been more popular and so the competition for franchises must be intense.  We would like to see more services into and out of Bradford – not only east-west but north-south aswell – and this is what has been promised by the Government and the new operator.  We’ll keep a watching brief on the performance and investment plans of the new franchisee and look forward to working with them as required.”

More details on today’s announcement can be found on the government website here.

MIPIM plans encouraged

Businesses are being encouraged to consider joining the region’s visit to Europe’s biggest property convention next year.

MIPIM takes place in March in Cannes, south of France, when thousands of developers, investors and others involved in the property sector converge to either consider potential investment opportunities or flag up schemes that require some support.

Businesses from West & North Yorkshire and the wider Leeds City Region will be visiting MIPIM during 15-18 March, led by the Local Enterprise Partnership Chair, Roger Marsh.  It is expected that several Chamber of Commerce members will be among the delegation.

Details of the event, including sponsorship opportunities and contact information, can be found here.

Mike Cartwright of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said: “We’re encouraging businesses to think about the opportunities that MIPIM presents for developments in our area.  The property sector suffered greatly during the recession but, while there is still lots of caution due to various factors affecting trade, there are many opportunities coming through and there is money out there to invest; so we think people should take a look at the prospectus and give it some thought.”

Ensure you are not on HR’s Naughty List this Christmas

The office party at Christmas is supposed to be a time to celebrate the successes of the year … let your hair down and relax … but not too much, or you’ll be seeing in the new year with HR!

Businesses are often confused about their liabilities at the office party but ​employment law is clear: the office party is seen to be an extension of the workplace regardless of the venue and timing.  Employers shouldn’t be nervous… instead follow these simple tips to ensure that you avoid being on HR’s naughty list in 2016:

  1. If you are supplying alcohol; you may be legally responsible for the employee’s welfare so think about sensible volumes
  2. Think about accommodation and travel for those employees who are drinking
  3. As Managers, you should avoid discussing employment matters such as salary, promotion, transfers, grievances etc … particularly as you might not recall the conversation later!
  4. You may want to limit the mistletoe; unwanted sexual harassment is not a good recipe for the new year
  5. Have a great night – celebrate and congratulate your teams’ successes – but if there are complaints … investigate them immediately and follow a fair and proper process

The Chamber’s free legal and HR helpline provider, Qdos would like to wish members a very merry Christmas and encourage you to make 2016 a winning year by ensuring that your HR strategy is working in line with your business strategy. Give Qdos a call on 01455 852028 to discuss how they can help you.