Small Business Saturday Blog

Better people for Better business

Tuesday, November 14 at 08:07


Managing talent in small businesses can be a real challenge.

Just as you begin to congratulate yourself on identifying good people and getting them in the door, new challenges arise around developing them, managing career breaks (eg maternity/paternity) and demonstrating opportunities for career progression to keep them. 

The necessary administration can also be a headache, from payroll and taxes to employment law, performance and pay reviews. Even large and well-resourced business can occasionally fall foul of the law.

For most businesses, people are their greatest asset. But in a small business where everybody is a specialist in their field, how do new employees develop? Take the finance function – the accountant in a business of 15 employees may be the only finance professional. Who do they consult, learn from, observe? How do they cope when they face new situations, like growth, cash flow difficulty, sector diversification, or system failure?

On 14 November 2017 ACCA will publish results of research into managing talent in smaller businesses. It shows that the three main attractions for employees aged 35 or under of working in smaller accounting practices are: 

·      job security (86%)
·      work/life balance (83%)
·      flexible working arrangements (71%).

The research also reveals that it often pays to look outside of your business to help deliver your talent. If you have an existing relationship with a qualified accountant, could they mentor your new finance person? Is your employee taking advantage of local networking opportunities (ACCA’s 39 regional member networks cover most of the UK) or perhaps there is a local breakfast club for finance professionals? Sometimes an individual may wish to pursue more formal training or work towards their next level of professional exams. 

A little flexibility on the part of the employer can engender greater employee loyalty and professional skills development, which ultimately will benefit your business. When talented individuals move on after receiving an offer they can’t refuse, your business can bask in the glow of a reputation for developing talent and you can use this as a hook when recruiting a replacement. Incidentally, ACCA’s Jobs Board (60,000 vacancies at the time of writing) can help you find new talent.

Apprenticeships are also changing fast and have the power to radically change how you manage your talent. New apprenticeships standards are suitable for both new recruits and more experienced staff. You may be able to unlock funding to support employees studying for ACCA’s brand new ‘Trailblazer’ Level 4 Accounting Technician Apprenticeship

In the coming months ACCA will explore the issue of talent further, seeking practical guidance for our members and the businesses which employ them. It will see us explore the central tenet that better people make better businesses.


Nick Jeffrey – Regional head of policy (Europe and the Americas) ACCA

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