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Staff absence and IT failure — are small businesses for the unexpected, internet survey asks


Contingency plans for staff absence and a major IT systems failure was the focus of the latest online internet survey run by The University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation.

More than 85 per cent of respondents to the UK Business Barometer Survey run businesses employing 20 or less full-time employees. In a small business, the owner manager or chief executive is far more likely to be hands-on and crucial to the day-to-day running of the business than in medium-sized or larger organisations, so any absence of key staff could be detrimental.

Despite this, the survey found that insurance to offset this risk was not taken up by two-thirds of the respondents to the January survey.

In its sister survey, the UK Business Adviser Barometer, panellists were asked to say, from their own experience, what proportion of small firms has temporary incapacity/critical illness insurance. More than half (56 per cent) said that less than 10 per cent take this type of cover, while 40 per cent of respondents said between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of small businesses took out this type of insurance.

IT, as well as staff, is another resource which is becoming increasingly crucial to small businesses — three-quarters of UKBB respondents rate their business success to be highly or reasonably highly dependent on IT. Of those, 78 per cent said they had the proper mechanisms in place against a major IT systems failure. Of the 23 per cent of respondents who rate their businesses as less dependent on IT for success, 72 per cent said they had the right contingency plans in place to deal with any computer problems.

Among the business advisers responding to the UKBAB, 34 per cent believed that up to 10 per cent of clients have proper mechanisms in place against major IT systems failure, while 37 per cent think that the figure is somewhere between 11 and 20 per cent. The remaining 29 per cent said that more than 20 per cent of their clients were prepared in this way.

The January survey also posed questions on the time business owners set aside for their training, outsourcing administrative services, accredited business advice and its confidentiality.

The UK Business Barometer (UKBB) and UK Business Adviser Barometer (UKBAB) operate over the web to generate very rapid results. The surveys have unique software that enables results to be processed and posted on their respective websites immediately they arrive.

The survey results are published monthly and more information, including a press pack, can be found on the web at and Businesses and advisers wishing to contribute as panellists on the project should visit the appropriate Business Barometer website to register.

Rick Eagles | alfa
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