Funding, recruitment and increasing costs are seen as some of the biggest challenges in 2014.

Bank lending, the trials and tribulations surrounding the introduction of auto enrolment and managing cash flow are some of the much-covered challenges facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. However, new research has revealed that recruiting a talented work force, funding and increasing costs are some of the biggest issues SMEs are currently struggling with.

The survey of 500 UK SMEs explores the numerous challenges that many start-ups have faced since the market crash of 2008, and looks at the conflicting factors affecting specific industries and how thriving SMEs are overcoming such issues. For start-ups the biggest challenge remains access to funding. And increasing costs, such as energy and travel, were highlighted by 21 per cent as the biggest challenge for small businesses throughout 2014.

The most challenging HR process for over a third (36%) of SMEs across the retail, health and fitness, technology, finance and travel industries was identified as recruiting a talented work force. They found it more complicated than staff training, staff turnover or staff morale, according to the research by Conference Genie.

When asked about productivity within the business, SMEs identified staff morale as having the biggest impact and 25 per cent noted social outings as the best way of keeping morale and motivation high. Staff turnover was illustrated as a more pressing issue for industries such as retail, with the setting of realistic goals and workload being the most effective way of ensuring staff morale is high.

Nearly a quarter of SMEs across the varying industries plan to invest the greatest amount of their budget for 2014 into HR/People management, in order to improve their business. Those in the finance sector also said the majority of their time would be spent improving their knowledge of these areas of their business.

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