At our most recent South Bucks Business Breakfast event, a majority of the 70-plus business owners in the room raised their hand to the question: “Who agrees that staff is your biggest expense?” It was a great reminder that there should be more of a focus on them, regularly communicating, listening to them and, most importantly, understanding them.
One of our guest speakers from the South Bucks Business Breakfast (SBBBC) event, an employment law specialist from Lennons Solicitors, demonstrated how costly staff can be when things go wrong. She included some practical examples of scenarios where cases have escalated to thousands of pounds worth of legal fees when they could have otherwise been avoided. Some are still ongoing after months and years of litigation and the fees soon mount up.
One of the scenarios could have been solved very simply, if communications had been open from the beginning. It highlighted how important it is to take the time to understand employees and how this can go a long way in preventing problems from arising – especially into costly concerns.
We are all perhaps a bit guilty of letting the day to day of running a business get on top of us. We are all busy and, particularly smaller and growing businesses, run at full capacity. This makes it difficult for us to spend quality time with our staff and perhaps present an opportunity to uncover any issues they are facing.
During the second part of the morning, we were treated to a live role play. The delegates were given a situation – in this case, an employee had requested to speak to their manager about something that was affecting their work – and then the outcome of the role play was decided by the audience in small groups. Discussions were held amongst each group about how they would have dealt with the situation and eventually drew a conclusion. It was a great way to see how those in the room were able to see their decisions unfold and what they might do differently if they were faced with that situation in the real world.
This event was even more important, because Buckinghamshire is full of small businesses that invest millions in staff. The county is a great contributor to the economy and is full of opportunity, so it is more important than ever that businesses don’t take their eye off the ball. As costs go up and profits are squeezed, keeping a cool head can prevent a dramatic scenario from unfolding – and this can start with a simple conversation.
Our events in South Bucks are held quarterly and registration is on a first come first served basis. If you are interested in joining us for a future event, you can keep an eye on the events page.