Tuesday, July 7th, 2004

The June Survey focused on aspects of recruitment, pressures on pay, profitability and numbers of Full Time Equivalent posts, seeking advice on Corporate Social Responsibility generally and on environmental and sustainability issues specifically. The Survey also included the 5 regular quarterly questions. The trends charts from the responses to the regular quarterly questions, analysed by size of firm and sector, can be found at www.UKBB.ac/trends.html

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  • About the respondents

    167 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:

    Production & Manufacturing Distribution Services Total
    26.9% 8.4% 64.7% 100.0%

    Turnover ()
    < 1 M 1M-3M >3M Total
    68.9% 20.4% 10.8% 100.0%

    Number of Full-time Employees
    1-10 11-20 21-50 51-100 100+ Grand Total
    57.5% 30.5% 6.0% 3.0% 3.0% 100.0%

  • Survey Findings

  • References and qualifications are required as a basic part of the recruitment process for most occupations. The UK Business Barometer (UKBB) panel were asked if they take up references automatically, while the parallel Business Advisers Barometer, (UKBAB) were asked if they routinely advise clients to take up references. 73% of Advisers give this advice routinely compared with the 58% of Businesses that automatically take up references.

  • Fewer Businesses automatically require copies of certificates - 29%, although 47% occasionally do. This compares with 57% of Advisers that routinely advise clients to ask for certificates and 34% that occasionally do. 25% of UKBB respondents never require copies of certificates.

  • The question about pressure on pay levels was put to the UKBAB panel with respect to their views on the pressure within their client businesses. Both Surveys found that very few businesses were experiencing no upward pressure: only 7% in the UKBB and 6% in the UKBAB. Generally UKBB respondents were more aware of upward pressure than UKBAB panellists, with 43% of UKBB experiencing it significantly or very significantly, compared to 22% of UKBAB panellists who perceived clients to be undergoing significant or very significant upward pressure on pay. 6% of UKBAB panellists didn't know and the results shown here have been adjusted to exclude them.

  • Compared with last year, the balance of UKBB respondents was towards higher profits, with 35% saying their businesses were more or much more profitable and 25% saying they were less or much less profitable, while 40% were neutral. The UKBAB panel was asked if their clients businesses were generally more or less profitable, and again the balance of their responses was towards greater profits, with 26% perceiving that there is more or much more profitability amongst their clients and 15% saying that clients businesses were less or much less profitable, after adjusting for the 7% who didn't know.

  • 31% of UKBB panellists expect the number of FTE jobs to rise over the next year compared to 12% that expect the number to fall, but 49% expect no change.

  • The Government would like to encourage Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) .Environmental and sustainability issues are a substantial part of CSR. The whole topic area is becoming increasingly emphasised and more information is now more widely available.

  • Only 16% of UKBB panellists feel greatly or fairly greatly in need of advice on CSR, and 32% feel that they need no advice at all on the practicalities. Only 15% of the UKBAB respondents give advice on the practicalities of CSR to a high or fairly high extent, and 36% do not advise in this area.

    Results are similar from the UKBB for Environmental and sustainability issues: 15% of UKBB respondents feel that they greatly or fairly greatly need advice, while 30% say they don't need any. By contrast, a larger percentage of advisers are active in this area, with 34% from the UKBAB saying that they cover these issues highly or fairly highly, with 17% who do not advise in this area.

  • Constraints on business due to skill shortages have increased on average during the last quarter and this is most apparent in businesses with turnovers of less than 1M. Constraints due to lack of finance eased on average, more so among higher turnover firms of over 3M.

  • Constraint due to low market demand decreased, on average, in the June quarter. The greatest decrease was in businesses with turnovers of more than 3M.

  • Average growth in the last quarter increased at a slightly lower pace than in the preceding three quarters, but within this, companies with turnover of between 1M -3M expanded faster while those with turnover above 3M grew the least quickly.

  • Overall, respondents expect a slower rate of increase in the next quarter, particularly in companies with turnover of less than 1M. Businesses in the Production and Manufacturing sector expect higher growth, while Service sector businesses on average expect growth rates to moderate.

    Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey BB73 June 2004.

    Comments are listed under sector headings.

    Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those of the University.

    Production & Manufacturing

    Production & Manufacturing Useful providing the influencers listen. It would be good to determine feedback in terms of govt. policy changes/ nuances it achieves. .

    When will it become illegal for these foreign call centres to stop wasting our time. shouldn't we be able to block them like we are able to with junk faxes?


    I understand the overall need for broad questions but as a small private company some of the questions are not that relevant and get low score responses. If it were possible to grade questions by size of business it would possibly become more aware of the needs of different types of businesses.

    Insurance - How many of those responsible actually understand the basis on which they are insuring the business


    I feel grossly over-regulated in my business; just like teaching, the need to generate paperwork just to keep inspectors happy is undermining my main task of supporting my staff caring for the clients. If I could be confident a political party would ease this burden (I am not confident!) they would get my vote regardless of any other issue. This country feels like it's being stifled by regulation, policed by a whole industry of 'compliance officers'. Trust seems to have disappeared. A sad state; nothing works without trust.

    My seemingly disparate comments are due to the fact that my business (publishing a local newspaper) is in high demand and ready to grow, but held back by a total lack of funds and suitable personnel.

    There has been good consumer confidence this year, a slight increase in interest rates should not be to much of a problem.