UK companies are placing as much focus on investment in people as they are in technology as they plan for growth in the future, according to a new HSBC report.
Navigator: Made for the Future found that businesses are taking employee welfare and development seriously with 50% of companies planning to increase investment in skills and training and 42% planning to spend more on employee wellbeing. Almost three in five (59%) intend to introduce or increase flexible working practices to enhance wellbeing.
Meanwhile, half of businesses are planning to increase investment in research, innovation and technology and three quarters (75%) expect their focus on technology to change in the next two years as they seek growth opportunities in a fast-changing world. More than three quarters (79%) of companies think innovation will make their people more productive, 72% think it will enhance wellbeing and almost half (47%) see it as the only way to grow.
Peter McIntyre, head of small business banking for HSBC UK, said: “UK companies are telling us that they expect growth to come from both creating the right environment for employees to be at their best and giving them the very best tools to succeed. The way we do business is evolving and it’s encouraging to see that decision makers recognise the importance of a happy and highly-skilled workforce to achieve their growth ambitions.”
Overall the survey found that almost three quarters (73%) of UK companies expect to grow in the next two years, which aligns with their French (72%) and German (77%) counterparts. This British growth is expected to be fuelled by an increasing customer base, improved quality and availability of skills in their workforce and an ability to attract investment.
This thread of British optimism continues with 59% of decision makers feeling that opportunities outweigh threats – a significantly higher proportion than compatriots in France (44%) and Germany (43%). The biggest opportunities identified by UK businesses are improving productivity, the adoption of new technologies and expansion of product or business lines.
British companies are open to change, with nearly half (47%) seeing innovation as a growth opportunity. Nearly the same percentage of businesses in both France and Germany, meanwhile, see innovation as more of a means of survival (46%).
Peter McIntyre said: “UK businesses are resilient and optimistic about their medium term growth prospects, despite current uncertainties. Compared to their European counterparts, UK companies see more opportunities and are more open to innovation and change.”