In turbulent times what should SMEs be doing to weather the storm?

These are our 5 key people-related areas to consider:

1. Take stock

Look at all your people processes and the way your company is staffed and structured.  Is everyone working as productively as they could?  Do you have the right people doing the right jobs with the right skills?

2. Look at costs

This is an ideal opportunity to examine your cost base to ensure that you know the cost of all people-related processes and question how each contributes to or detracts from the bottom line.  The largest cost is likely to be the salary bill and many organisations may turn to redundancies to reduce this burden.  However, leaping straight into a redundancy program can be a mistake.  Other cost controlling exercises should be considered e.g. reducing absence levels; review the benefits you provide; freeze recruitment or limit it to crucial money generating areas; consider encouraging flexible working arrangements; multi-skill employees so they become more flexible; review travel and expense policies.  Outsourcing non-core business functions may also enable an organisation to cut or control its costs – consider finance, marketing, IT or HR.

3. Communication

Cost-cutting can be morale sapping for the workforce, so keep employees motivated by being transparent and communicating what is going on.  An acknowledgment of employees‟ concerns about the future of the company will also go a long way towards keeping them on side.

4. Look after the best people

Retaining and maximising the productivity of your best people will be key in any slowdown.  However, you will need to be creative with retention tools to control the costs.  Ensure your performance management processes are working.  Consider promoting or introducing tax-efficient benefits which can be cost neutral due to savings in employer NI.  Emphasise non-financial rewards that help to make a workplace special, such as flexible working arrangements, training and unpaid sabbaticals.  Offer group seminars on money matters which can help reduce stress-related illness, improve performance at work and boost morale overall.

5. Seek advice

If you are seeking to make any of your employees redundant seek advice first to ensure that your process meets all your legal obligations – redundant employees  are far more likely to make tribunal applications.  A process that appears “unfair” may also damage your reputation with those  employees you want to keep.

For assistance in streamlining or restructuring your business contact Anita Wynne at Beststart HR on or Tel: 01438 747 747.