Akoni had the privilege of being part of London and Partners Business Programme’s recent report Access to Talent.
The findings are based on feedback from London’s tech community and reveals the ongoing issues of attracting, nurturing and retaining the talent that drives company growth.
These are problems faced by firms big and small – but the latter is the most affected. Trying to compete for talent alongside tech giants and financial firms is a challenge that most SMEs struggle to overcome. They simply can’t afford to match the salaries of the big boys looking for the same people.
There are also fewer qualified workers to pick from these days, thanks to worries over Brexit.
So what’s the answer to the bottleneck? And how can we create a workforce that is not only talented but also as unique and diverse as the customers we aim to serve?
Government must do more to create a better image of the UK as a place that is still open for business. London is a global city that is driven by the world – our population comes from everywhere and so does our talent. We need to reflect this reality more clearly. Campaigns that highlight success stories and what makes the UK so great for a new generation of workers are good places to start. They need to know that we want and need them to drive our booming sector. Making it easier for skilled workers to come into Britain through fast track VISA schemes is also vital.
Businesses also have to play a part to woo staff. If an SME can’t compete in salary, then they have to make their work environments more appealing. Flexible hours, mentoring for staff, equity in the company and parental leave are excellent policies that should be a primary focus for any business that wants to stay competitive. This can also help to create a more diverse workforce, which can foster greater employee loyalty. If people feel comfortable in their workspace, and have an opportunity to express their unique perspectives in a nurturing environment, then they are more likely to stay.
Innovations for business have made it easier to do more with fewer staff – especially FinTech technology that helps simplify payments, invoices, and managing loans and savings. But nothing beats human contact and engagement. This is what sets us apart, the unique selling point for SMEs the world over: our people.