According to new research published by Opus Energy, 86% of UK SMEs continue to struggle with productivity issues, which threaten to hinder their growth and potentially cost them any chance of long-term success if allowed to continue unchecked. As a result, businesses are now taking an increasingly active approach when it comes to alleviating these issues, with a number of tactics being employed in the battle against ailing efficiency.

One of the more popular approaches is to allow employees to work flexibly, with 40% of respondents utilising this tactic in an effort to increase wellbeing and happiness, and by extension boost productivity. Money is also a widely-used incentive with 35% of SMEs offering bonuses and other perks as motivation and a further 30% saying they pay their staff an above-average wage.

Another tactic used by employers to address low productivity was to relocate to another area; perhaps unexpectedly however more than one-fifth of SMEs involved in the survey had set up their business near other, like-minded companies in order to to capitalise on a culture of innovation, with 12% opting to share office space with those in similar industries as they sought to further capitalise on these benefits.

While you may think working in such close-quarters with industry rivals would have a dampening effect on performance, 56% of SME owners stated that the competition would in fact spur them on, leading to better chances of success both in terms of commercial activity and productivity. Other cited benefits of working in close proximity with business rivals include the sharing of ideas and networking opportunities, as well as the ability to tap into ready-skilled talent. Also worth considering is the fact that those in related industries are not always necessarily rivals, and oftentimes these clusters of similarly-inclined companies will lead to valuable business deals and cooperative working arrangements that benefit both parties.

Nikki Flanders, Opus Energy COO, commented, “With a vast 86% of SMEs saying they’re struggling with productivity issues, the gravity of the situation has meant that businesses are now changing their approach and putting their employees first. This is definitely the right approach, as employees drive businesses forward and provide the foundations for success. It’s good to see small businesses engaging their employees and implementing measures to help talent be at their best, as this in turn will enable them to perform at their optimum in the workplace.

“It’s also encouraging to see small businesses considering the importance of location. We have found that opening our offices in regional hotspots or clusters for certain skills has helped us recruit more quickly and enabled us to hit the ground running. For any small business, cost and convenience will of course be major drivers in determining where to start out, but I urge small business owners to rethink this approach, as businesses need to become savvier when recruiting. With millennials increasingly becoming more particular about where they work and Britain currently experiencing a low unemployment rate, businesses need to be strategic on how they recruit, and location could just be the clincher.”


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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