Small family firms "doing the most to protect jobs"

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Date: 15 September 2020

A father and son stand next the the family business van

As redundancy levels soar, new research has found that the UK's small family businesses are least likely to have laid off staff during the pandemic.

A study by Hitachi Capital Business Finance has found that less than one in two UK small business owners (46%) expect to have made staff redundant by the end of 2020.

Family firms are least likely to reduce their headcount, it seems, with 57% saying they will continue to employee all their staff. In fact, these family-run firms are more likely than the average small business to have:

  • Given bonuses to their staff during lockdown (13%);
  • Initiated one-to-one pastoral calls to support staff member wellbeing (12%);
  • Committed to improved sick pay for those isolating or suffering COVID-19 symptoms (15%).

Beyond supporting staff, family business owners are also more likely than the average small business owner to have taken a personal pay cut (24%) or asked their staff to work fewer hours a week (27%) in order to protect staff numbers as a whole.

The level of commitment from family businesses to protect jobs mean that they anticipate lower levels of job cuts by the end of the year - at just 7%. Even so, the findings also show that family business owners reported a steep decline in turnover for the year - a fall of 34% compared to a national average of 30%.

In addition, family business owners said they were in need of more funding to grow their business in 2021 - an average requirement of £69,000 compared to a small business average of £60,000.

Jo Morris, head of insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: "To some, family businesses conjure up images of tradition, heritage and community such as the local store in TV's Open All Hours. Whilst family businesses may have more traditional values and outlook, our research suggests that caring and looking after people is often at the heart of their business. And this bodes well during a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty. Despite the greater challenges that family businesses have in adapting their businesses and in seeking finance, many have worked extremely hard since lockdown to avoid the painful process of letting people go."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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