Category: Learning & Development

Dear Dissertation Diary

Starting My Disseration

This is my first entry in the journey of writing my dissertation. I will write regular editions to keep you updated on my progress both writing and researching the topic of which is exploring the SME experience of immigration and employing migrants. Being a wide reaching topic to social, political and economic aspects, immigration provides an important context to the motivations and barriers of employing migrants.

Findings So Far

I am in the first few weeks of researching the literature, which comprises the main chapter in the dissertation – analysing the literature. I have found that Government agenda has strongly influenced the scale of regulation, a number of authors have critiqued that the Labour party have been thinking of image rather than boosting the economy. On the other hand, there is suggestion that the Conservative party are being selective and restrictive about migrants entering the UK, which can have an impact on SME’s in terms of being able to bring the skills they need to their company and the time and cost required to complete the process of sponsoring a migrant. One thought I had was that given low skilled migrants are being discouraged, maybe this opens the gap for young people? Are they being too fussy? One journal shows that migrants are often preferred for their strong work ethic.

Questions To Consider

In terms of business impact, those businesses that rely on high skilled migrants are definitely feeling this agenda – HR systems, cost and time is required, elements which SME’s tend to be short of. How do they manage migrants, has it changed the way they manage employees? Are the legal requirements the main motivation for HR systems? Do migrant employees integrate easily into their business? These are the kind of questions I am to uncover and analyse.

The full 15,000 word requirement does feel like mission impossible just now, but split into sections it becomes more manageable. For example, right now I am analysing the literature I have sourced on a spreadsheet, dividing the columns into: the purpose, findings and relevance of the literature and the view of the author.

If times are tough, invest in Training & Development

It goes without saying that times have been pretty tough for businesses over the last few years, with many suffering substantial reductions to their workforce. As most business owners know, the first area that typically suffers cuts is the training budget, if there is one in existence In the first place!

What the research tells us

However, research reveals that one of the pitfalls of this method is that reductions in the training budget, can often lead to a loss of motivation and resentment, particularly if organisations have also downsized or restructured. The last thing that existing staff need to see are further cutbacks affecting those remaining.
Historically, many organisations, when in a recession, reduce their staffing levels to such an extent that when the upturn eventually comes, they are not in a position are able to cope with the upturn, due to either insufficient resources or lack of skills. These high skills shortages can have a major impact and implications on the business’ performance going forward.

Instead, at times like these, what organisations need are staff who are prepared to think on their feet, multitask and spot potential business opportunities. Only well trained and motivated staff can do that.

Investment in training

The Nurturing Talent report (2008) produced by Cranfield School of Management showed that investment in training is not only more effective than shopping around for new talent, but is more likely to increase staff motivation and retention, and can actually save money in the process. Staff are more likely to “go the extra mile” if their employer is prepared to assist them in expanding their skills.
Surprisingly, the latest recession has caused many businesses to actually invest more in to training in an effort to train smarter. There has been more focus on key business needs and by organising more in house courses and renegotiating existing contracts, businesses have been more successful in retaining and motivating their workforce through these difficult times.
Training is no longer seen as non essential and businesses are realising that only by investing in training, are their business likely to survive and prosper beyond the recession.

Are HR issues taking over your business?

With the recession having a massive impact on performance of small businesses, many SMEs have found that as they spend more time focusing on HR-related issues, vital areas such as customer service and new business development are suffering.

Research undertaken by Croners, a workplace information provider and consultancy service, states that 60% of those in SMEs have no formal HR training, despite 10% spending up to 15 hours a week (2 days) dealing with HR issues and employment regulations – valuable time that could be spent developing the businesses and focusing on core responsibilities.

Further research by found that 40% of firms have no written HR policies and 21% of SMEs have no formal contracts in place for permanent employees.

This lack of documentation places SMEs in a potentially precarious, costly and often unaffordable position should legal action arise.

The Solution.

Often unsure of whether they are following the right steps, many trawl the internet for what is often incorrect advice, or alternatively take the costly employment law firm route which, although ensures legal compliance, does not provide that specialist HR expertise and is not tailored with a specific business sector in mind.

The alternative is to either employ in house, which is often unaffordable or unnecessary, or to consider outsourcing the HR function to a specialist provider.

Can you afford not to act?

As an idea of what could happen when it goes horribly wrong; tribunal awards increase annually. Currently awards for unfair dismissal claims cap at £68,400, breach of contract at £25,000, and any successful claim of discrimination uncapped, therefore potentially much higher figures!

So, ask yourself the question; “Can I afford to defend against legal action or should I take preventative measures by streamlining and simplifying our HR processes?”.

This is achievable with the right tools, guidance and support in place, allowing your business to refocus on the core activities.

Let us help you!

Gravitate HR are here to help your business manage HR processes more effectively. We can provide a bespoke service, tailoring our service to your needs, thus allowing you more time to develop and grow your business.