Survey reveals SMEs spend over an hour on admin each week

Survey reveals SMEs spend over an hour on admin each week

Breathe, an HR software provider for SMEs, has announced the findings of its survey into the business impact of time spent on administrative tasks. The research polled 375 Senior Decision Makers (SDMs) at UK SMEs and found that, on average, an hour (62 minutes) is spent on admin each week.

This equates to more than seven working days every year, meaning lost productivity costs £19 billion per year and time wasted on admin is negatively impacting company culture and the wellbeing of teams.

The research found that despite it taking up a significant chunk of time for all SMEs, only 45% are using technology to manage their admin. Three in ten (31%) medium businesses don’t use software to streamline their admin at all, despite dedicating an hour a week to it. For those who don’t use software, two thirds (65%) claim it’s because they don’t see a need for such technology.

A quarter (23%) found that day-to-day tasks have become more difficult working from home and admin associated with ongoing training and development was also hard to keep up with for 21% of respondents. Yet, with the ONS finding an exacerbated mental health crisis in the UK due to the pandemic, businesses need to shift their focus away from admin and onto supporting their people more effectively.

With a real time crunch due to time spent on admin, only half of SMEs (53%) introduced new measures to support their team’s wellbeing during the pandemic.

Using technology to streamline employee admin gives employers more time to spend evaluating their wellbeing strategies and creating support systems. Time otherwise spent wading through paperwork can be redirected to help those struggling with their mental health.

Other key findings include:

  • Small businesses spent the most time focusing on admin (80 minutes) each week while micro businesses spent nearly an hour (49 minutes)
  • A total of 24% reported that it was much harder to stay on top of holiday and sick leave whilst working from home
  • Two in five (39%) reported that providing support in regard to health and wellbeing was a major difficulty during the pandemic
  • Only 16% would rather spend that time focusing on employee culture while 38% wanted to focus time spent on admin on employee development

Jonathan Richards, CEO of Breathe, said: “One hour a week doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you think about what else employers could do with this time, it really adds up. Right now, it’s a challenging time for businesses and their people. Working in a decentralised environment means that day to day tasks are harder to manage and simple tasks become more time consuming.

“Looking after people working remotely isn’t always straight forward either, especially if employers don’t have the time to reach out for a chat or focus on creating wellbeing initiatives to support their people, which is critical at the moment due to the pandemic.”

He added: “Using technology to simplify admin tasks gives business leaders the space to focus on their people and drive business goals. There’s a real business case for using technology to alleviate the time pressures admin creates, using a product can literally give you time which you can invest back into the people and the business, to create long term productivity and engagement which furthers business goals.” 

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