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July 18, 2014

Also in the news this week – 18 July 2014

The cost of online reputational damage

On average, bad reviews, malicious posts and negative social media comments cost British businesses £46,815 as a result of lost sales and diminished company value, according to research published by reputation management specialists Igniyte. A fifth of their survey respondents admitted that 'firefighting' is now the focus of their online strategy. Two thirds of respondents say they don't have the specialist skills to deal with the problem. Although 10% of respondents were unhappy with how their business is portrayed by comments on Google, two thirds of business owners have no idea what to do about it.

More than half of UK SMEs plan to recruit

A nationwide survey of almost 700 businesses carried out by outsourced HR services provider The HR Dept has found that 56.7% of respondents plan to recruit in the next six months. Flexible working is a key issue for employers, following the recent extension of the right to request to all employees with 26 weeks' service (not just parents and carers). "Almost a third of respondents with staff working flexibly were concerned about extending the option," said Sue Tumelty, founder and managing director of The HR Dept. "More positively, 22% who don't have staff working flexibly were unconcerned by the recent changes, while the same percentage thought it was fairer to allow all staff with sufficient service to request flexible working."

MPs seek foreign language skills help

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages has called on all political parties to make a general election manifesto commitment to help "transform the reputation of UK citizens as poor linguists, reluctant to value other languages" and "encourage employers to get involved in tackling the crisis" and possibly receive tax incentives for recruiting or training foreign language speakers. A 2013 UK Commission for Employment and Skills survey suggested that where vacancies were not filled because of a lack of skills, no foreign languages was the chief reason in 17% of cases. While the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2014 found that 65% of firms required foreign language speakers, the European Commission estimates that only 39% of UK adults speak a foreign language, some way behind the EU average of 54%.

FSB: UK business broadband not up to speed

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for government to adopt "much more ambitious targets for rolling out high speed broadband for businesses across the UK". With some 45,000 firms estimated to still be on dial-up and many more struggling with lower speeds, in many parts of the country the business community is not able to access high speed broadband. The FSB said: "The UK's forthcoming digital infrastructure strategy therefore needs to recognise this issue and put small businesses at the front and centre of future rollout plans, so that they can enjoy the benefits, too." John Allan, FSB national chairman, described as "unacceptable" the fact that some 45,000 UK businesses rely on dial-up services.