Economy

1 in 3 SMEs struggle with cost of staffing, NatWest report reveals

85% of recruiters say businesses are struggling to employ the talent they need, with the challenge starkest in Greater London (92%), the East of England (90%) and Wales (93%)

New research conducted by NatWest Rapid Cash has revealed that 34% of SMEs are struggling with the cost of staffing, which has led to more vacancies across the job market.

In addition, 85% of recruiters say businesses are struggling to employ the talent they need, with the challenge starkest in Greater London (92%), the East of England (90%) and Wales (93%). The research has also identified that the shortage of candidates is particularly affecting the Healthcare, IT and Technology sectors.

On 6 June, more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies started working a four-day week with no loss of pay and the report’s researchers asked recruiters for their views on this new working pattern. Some 79% of recruiters think the four-day working week will become the norm before 2030, while 86% of recruiters think the four-day working week is a good thing with employers measuring slightly less at 76%. 

The top three pros of the four-day working week for recruiters reportedly are happier employees (80%), more flexibility for staff (73%) and increased employee retention (56%). However, the report also identified potential issues for employers, as well as a five-year timeframe for a four-day working week to substantially transform the job market.

The top three cons of the four-day working week for recruiters reportedly are having to find cover for workload (44%), reduced hours might reduce work output (43%) and compression could cost money (33%). Only 21% of recruiters believe that the four-day working week will change the job market considerably in the next year, but this number is set to jump to 61% in five years. 

Natalie Kerr, chief commercial director at NatWest Rapid Cash, said: “Recruiters clearly see the four-day working week and personal wellbeing gaining popularity among employees, but many businesses are reluctant to provide a better work/life balance due to increased operational costs.

“At NatWest Rapid Cash, we believe the most effective way for SME employers, and recruiters, to meet staffing challenges is to strengthen their working capital. Cashflow is key when it comes not only to staffing but also to having the flexibility to adopt new models of working, and to make the most of growth opportunities.”

She added: “NatWest Rapid Cash has been designed for just this, helping businesses improve their cash flow by unlocking capital in unpaid invoices.”

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