As I said back in May, when I put my suggestion to Vince Cable at the Greater Manchester Chamber Annual Dinner – instead of offering an NI holiday to start up businesses who employ staff (how many start up businesses do YOU know about who start up and immediately employ 4 or 5 people?? That’s right – NONE – we are NOT in the dotcom boom for goodness sake) ..why not give the NI holiday to established small businesses? An established small business has the infrastructure to grow, it has been waiting for the economy to pick up a little and given the extra incentive (and therefore short term risk removal) of the NI holiday many more small businesses would be encouraged to employ, and fill the gaps left by the sweeping cuts in the public sector.

Well – perhaps not. Yes – if you want small business to create more jobs giving the NI incentives to start ups is NOT the way to go. Small established businesses ARE the ones who are more likely to create the jobs.

But will they employ all the overflow from the public sector? Will they heck. I have a family member and several good friends who work for the public sector and most of the people they work with would not last 2 seconds in the private sector. How many people who run a private business have time off sick??? I think I have had 4 days in 11 years and 2 of those were for a serious injury. How many staff in small businesses have lots of time off sick? Very few – and probably largely because a) they don’t get paid for it b) they are working in a culture where it is not acceptable and c) they don’t get paid for it. Yes – I know I said that one already.

Meanwhile the CIPD shows that sickness in the public sector is up to 55% higher than in the private sector. However, if their statement that ” The best cure for absence, they say, is someone being afraid of losing their job and turning up to work regardless of whether they are ill.” is correct, the current climate of public sector job losses might instigate an increase of people going to work this year.

In any case – its not just the poor attendance record of many in the public sector that puts off employers. And let me just say at this point I am not referring to ALL public sector workers – I do know that there are many very dedicated professional people in public sector life, but the figures are facts and speak for themselves.

The other reason that many of these redundant workers will struggle to find jobs in the private sector is the mindset and culture is completely different. In private sector each customer is very important, each order vital, each prospective new client needs to be treated well and each existing / repeat customer made to feel important. Is that your experience of dealing with public sector employees? If you ring your local council to make a complaint about the bins or the parking for example – do you feel like they are genuinely glad you rang and can’t wait to get off the phone so they can go solve your problem for you?

If you do – please tell me where you live cos I want to live there. My experience of dealing with council employees is a) no-one ever answers the phone until maybe the 40th ring b) when they do answer it feels like they have just uttered a long sigh as you are yet another interruption to their busy day c) there is nothing they can do about your issue – cos that’s just the way things are done around here.

With that as their experience of how you do things, plus the inevitable red tape and paper pushing – and tick boxing that goes on, some public sector employees are perhaps not best placed to understand the speed, agility and decision making needed in a small business. My family member worked for me for a short while some years ago and he found it eye opening and enlightening and believes it made him a much better employee when he returned to working for the public sector.

But the point is – even where there are individuals who have the right attitude and skills to work effectively in a small business – the perception is that they will not be suitable. They may be seen as more suitable to a large corporate where job roles might be more defined – but not a small business where a more flexible, accountable and problem solving approach is essential. And perception is everything!

So – I applaud the CIM’s statement this week – it is exactly what I said 8 months ago and if enough other business leaders and business organisations say the same thing – maybe George Osborne and Vince Cable will do something about it. But whether it will provide the jobs for ex public sector workers…..well that’s another question.