The CIPD, in partnership with Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), has secured funding to provide free HR and people management support to help improve the performance of small firms. 

The People Skills project will enable businesses in Birmingham that employ up to 50 people to access up to two days of face-to-face and telephone HR advice and online support. It’s being funded by the Government’s Business Basics Fund, which was established to help test and evaluate new approaches to boosting the performance and productivity of small firms.

Businesses will be able to specify the support they’d find most useful. Examples include help with drawing up employment contracts and job descriptions, managing absence and performance, and improving training and development provision for staff.

The project will provide evidence to policy makers on the impact that the provision of high quality HR and people management support has in improving workplace relations, productivity and financial outcomes for small firms. 

It will also provide new evidence on how to engage hard-to-reach SMEs which don’t currently belong to any local networks that support business growth. 

The project, due to officially launch in March 2019, will run for a year and is expected to benefit up to 500 local businesses. It follows successful pilots run by the CIPD in Hackney, east London, Glasgow and Stoke-on-Trent between July 2015 and October 2016.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, commented:

"Productivity and sustainable growth are key business and economic objectives, particularly for smaller businesses. Helping small firm owner-managers to improve their people management and development practices, which enable people to perform their best at work, is critical to achieving these objectives. 

“For smaller businesses, where access to good HR experience and practice is typically very limited, providing trusted resources and bespoke people management support can make all the difference in helping them to thrive and grow. 

“We are delighted to be working with the GBCC to provide support and help make a  positive difference to small businesses in the region, and provide policy makers with valuable new evidence on how to improve workplace productivity.”

Russell Jeans, chief operating officer for Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, commented: 

“We are thrilled to be working with the CIPD on the People Skills project to test how to improve small firms’ people management capability and understand how this links to improvements in firm performance. 

“Improving workplace productivity is already a strategic priority for the GBCC through our Growth Through People campaign. This partnership will help build on our efforts in this area and inform our understanding of how to engage with hard-to-reach small firms and the sort of support they need to thrive and grow.”

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