people-skillsSmall business is increasingly popular, with an estimated 5 million operating in the UK at the current time.  Achieving growth is a significant challenge however, as a recent report from Sherry Coutu highlighted.

She identifies five distinct challenges to achieving high levels of growth:

  • Finding employees to hire who have the skills they need
  • Building their leadership capability
  • Accessing customers in other markets/home market
  • Accessing the right combination of finance
  • Navigating infrastructure

It is very much in this second category that we have recently launched a partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) and JPMorgan to help provide small businesses with people management support.

The People Skills project aims to help SMEs by providing them with professional HR advice and was born out of a previous partnership with the CIPD on the production of a HR reward strategy report.

The project will provide SMEs with one-to-one support and guidance on areas such as employment and skills.  They will also have access to various local networking and training events, all offered free of charge.

Operational support

The importance of operational support for SMEs was highlighted in a recent Wharton paper that revealed how entrepreneurs are increasingly seeking support to help grow the business from financial backers rather than purely investment.

The People Skills project will initially be piloted to businesses employing between five and 50 staff who are based in London, Glasgow and Stoke-on Trent.

Professor Atkinson said: “SMEs form an integral part of the economy, helping to drive growth, employment and innovation. However, small businesses may struggle to receive the invaluable support than can be readily found in larger organisations, thereby stifling skills development and growth.

“By helping to plug this gap, SMEs will be able to develop their staff and call on the experience of HR professionals who can offer the type of guidance that wouldn’t have been previously available to them.”

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “The puzzle of the UK’s stagnant productivity performance has many components, but one crucial aspect that needs to be examined is how to help the UK’s small businesses raise their ambitions, boost their investment in people and make better use of skills in the workplace.

“Our People Skills programme is designed to help address this challenge, providing support where it’s needed to boost people management capability and ultimately performance and growth potential.”