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Admin is costing company culture

SMEs are spending too much time on admin, resulting in a productivity loss of £19 billion to businesses and employees going unsupported throughout the pandemic.

UK SMEs typically spend just over an hour (62 minutes) on admin each week, according to new research by HR software provider Breathe.

This equates to over seven working days every year, with the time lost negatively impacting company culture and the wellbeing of teams, the report said.

Just 45% of SMEs use technology to manage their admin, while three in ten (31%) medium businesses don’t use software to streamline their admin at all.

For those who reported not using software for admin tasks, two thirds (65%) claimed it’s because they don’t see a need for such technology.

The report argued that time wasted on admin should be redirected to workplace wellbeing given two in five respondents said they found providing mental health support during the pandemic a “major difficulty".

Throughout the pandemic, just half of SMEs (53%) said that they had introduced new measures to support their team’s wellbeing.

This is despite ONS figures stating 20% of people were likely to be suffering from some form of depression last year.

Further reading

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Jonathan Richards, CEO of Breathe said admin tasks are taking employees away from more important parts of their roles.

Speaking to HR magazine he said: “Looking after people working remotely isn’t always straightforward, especially if employers don’t have the time to reach out for a chat or focus on creating wellbeing initiatives to support their people, which is critical at the moment due to the pandemic.”

“It’s a challenging time for businesses and their people. Working in a decentralised environment means that day to day tasks are harder to manage and simple tasks become more time consuming.”

A quarter (23%) of respondents also found that day-to-day tasks have become more difficult working from home.

To support staff experiencing difficulties with their mental wellbeing, Richards added: "HR teams have a role to play when it comes to ensuring that teams are engaged and productive.

“First and foremost, it's important to work toward creating an environment which prioritises open and honest communication. If people are suffering with their mental health or struggling elsewhere at work, it's important that they feel they can talk to someone about it without judgement.

“HR teams can provide resources and support options so no one need suffer in silence."

Breathe polled 375 senior decision makers between 18 to 30 December 2020 to collate the research.