How SMEs are recovering from coronavirus

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Regular training, a long-term vision and openness to innovation have been found to be three of the most important factors in top performing UK SMEs, presenting others with the opportunity to reinforce their approach to a post-pandemic recovery.

According to analysis from Allica Bank, regular employee training was closely linked to success as nearly half (47%) of the top performing SMEs provided employee training on at least a quarterly basis.

In smaller businesses, 46% provide training only once a year or less for their employees, including 15% that never provide employer-funded programs.

A formal, long-term vision was outlined by 66% of the most successful SMEs, compared to just 50% of businesses outside the top 100 best-performers, and only 37% of those who scored lowest on the SME performance index.

Openness to innovation, particularly where the use of technology was concerned, was also found to be a contributing factor to SMEs’ success. Of the best performing businesses in the survey, 76% said they were either continually (39%) or often (37%) seeking new opportunities for technology in their business.

At supply chain management company Czarnikow, technology has been a key part of its response, and one it intends to maintain post-pandemic.

Speaking to HR magazine, Czarnikow head of HR Sharon Blore-Rimmer, said, “We acted fast to adapt and have learned that communication, employee wellbeing and upscaling our technical capabilities are central to our survival.”

Applying technology to help teams feel more connected was key, as was increasing communications from the CEO.

She added: “Our main challenge has been how to maintain our onboarding process, but we have been doing all we can to ensure it remains welcoming, informative and supportive. Upon return to ‘normal’ we will be taking forward many of the innovations that this period has encouraged us to employ.”

Other aspects differentiating the top performing companies from the rest in the survey included reinvestment plans, community engagement, and finding new markets overseas.

Chris Weller, chief commercial officer at Allica Bank, said: “All small businesses are different, as are all small business owners, but one trait they share is an innovative resilience. While the coming months and years will undoubtedly continue to present extreme challenges, there is no doubt that small and medium sized businesses across the UK will rise to meet them head on.

“Small business owners and their employees have been hit hard by the crisis, but they have the drive and resourcefulness to breathe new life into the economy and bring energy to post-COVID Britain. “

Allica Bank’s SME Guide to Success report is based on data collected from over 1,000 UK based SMEs combined with multiple regression analysis.

Further reading:

Financial safety leads as top priority for SME benefit schemes

SME lessons: Just enough structure to harness creativity

HR responds to COVID-19: software firm Personio

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