Has the younger generation SME owner got it right? Report suggests younger business owners spend more time dedicated to their staff

According to a new “Small Business Tracker” study published by business lender Everline and the Centre for Economic Business and Research (CEBR), small firms are spending on average 100 extra working hours a year on recruiting staff, but some £18bn is forfeited due to small businesses being unable to fill job openings with the right kinds of skilled candidates.

Even though there are around 520,000 job vacancies available and being advertised by UK small businesses, business owners are finding it a challenge to locate the right individuals for the role. In fact, the number of jobs available at small businesses is now at its highest level since 2004. A quarter of SMEs in the study had current vacancies available, and 16 per cent were not able to fill the role they had available because the range of candidates were not suitable or skilled to the appropriate level.

The report found that even more time was wasted by small business owners who had to spend extra overtime hours supporting any new employees to allow them to understand and fulfil their role more effectively. The report highlighted that 1 in 4 business owners were working extra hours because, essentially, they didn’t trust their staff to do the job properly and felt the need to check over everything themselves. The small business owner has a lot invested in the company, and can occasionally (and understandably) keep close hold of the reigns, rather than delegating to staff. Hiring the right kind of skilled workforce is therefore a pressing and growing issue for SMEs across the UK.

However, the report does suggest that younger business leaders (those aged between 18 and 34) may be at an advantage, as they spent more time on average than their older counterparts (aged 55 and over) supporting, training and recruiting staff. And this could be highly beneficial. With more staff investment, younger small business owners seem to be “more comfortable” to delegate responsibilities to other members of staff, rather than working the overtime hours doing the work themselves.

The outcome of this is that small business owners can spend more time on other key areas of the business – marketing, sales, chasing leads, finance, gaining investment, etc.

Russell Gould, managing director at Everline, commented, “We are in the midst of a transformational story where small businesses learn to take advantage of the digital age, and more needs to be done to ensure that our workforce has the necessary skills to excel in this changing environment…Younger entrepreneurs are doing the right thing by dedicating the time up front to develop their staff, but a more skilled workforce would remove the necessity for this and consequently free up even more time for UK small business owners.”

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