Businesses across Sheffield City Region face ‘more challenging times’

Louisa Harrison-Walker. Picture Scott Merrylees
Louisa Harrison-Walker. Picture Scott Merrylees
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MANY BUSINESSES across the Sheffield City Region are facing more challenging times, a major business event was told.

The Sheffield City Region quarterly economic review also revealed that less than half of all the firms surveyed had a formal “wellness” programme to ensure staff stayed fit and healthy.

The Sheffield City Region Economic Review and Q2 breakfast event, which was held at Inox Dine at the University of Sheffield, featured a presentation from Dr David Littlewood of Sheffield University Management School and a debate involving an expert panel.

In his report, Dr Littlewood said: “The results of the quarterly economic survey in the second quarter indicate that these are more challenging times for businesses across the city region, reflecting wider testing macroeconomic conditions.

“Over the last three months, sales balances for manufacturing firms across the Sheffield City Region have remained solid, but have declined for service sector firms.”

He added: “Looking forward, firms’ order books follow a similar pattern, with overall positive balances reported in both sectors, but at a declining level compared to the previous quarter amongst service firms.”

“Business confidence figures are down from the previous quarter for both sectors, but particularly amongst service sector firms, with historically low sentiment in relation to expected profitability in the next 12 months.”

A lower percentage of firms also indicate they are operating at full capacity, while balances relating to investment in training are down for both sectors, Dr Littlewood added.

The event, which was chaired by Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post, also featured a keynote speech about wellbeing in the workplace from Richard Holmes of Westfield Health, an organisation that encourages businesses to invest in the wellbeing of their staff.

The event included a panel discussion which featured Nigel Brewster, the vice chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, Lucy Robinson, a director of East Midlands Chamber, Dr Jeff Breckon of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, Dr Carolyn Axtell, a senior lecturer from Sheffield University Management School and Louisa Harrison-Walker (pictured) the managing director of Benchmark Recruit.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Robinson said: “If we don’t focus on our employees’ health and wellbeing, it will have a massive impact.

“If we don’t look after people, they will move on to another business that is going to cater for their needs. We will lose good people.

“It’s all about employers being aware and being able to have a discussion and support people. It’s also about being flexible as well.

“By changing somebody’s working hours for a few weeks, it could have a massive impact on their health going forward. It’s about being creative.”

She added: “The regional economy is still seeing growth, we’re maybe plateauing a little bit at the moment..but in general we are doing well as a region.”

She said the growth and success of Doncaster Sheffield airport was also helping to attract more people to the region.

The Sheffield City Region quarterly economic review brings together results completed by local firms.

The results are used to lobby regional and national government on behalf of the business community.