Economy

SMEs set to hire and invest in staff in 2014 as confidence rises, new SmartCompany survey finds

Melinda Oliver /

Small to medium business owners will focus on hiring and training staff in 2014, the new SmartCompany – Crowe Horwath SME Directions survey for 2013 shows.

Approximately two in three respondents, 67.2%, reported that they planned to hire new staff in the next six to 12 months.

The survey of over 1000 SME owners and managers showed they are also planning to invest in staff development, with 53.6% intending to develop leadership skills within their existing teams by offering mentorship.

Just over half, 51.9% said they would offer in-house training to staff, while 43.2% of respondents said they would provide access to short courses for further training.

Only 14.7% said they would invest in formal higher education for employees.  

In contrast, 16.8% said they had no intention of investing in leadership skills in their team in the year ahead.

A small portion of businesses reported that they had “other” plans to develop leadership skills of their team. These included obtaining grants to help pay for courses that offer qualifications, consulting  human resources experts for help, and also bringing in mentors from outside the business to encourage staff.

The survey was conducted after the September 7 federal election. Over half of respondents, 54.8%, were more satisfied with the federal government’s small to medium business policies.

One respondent commented they were “looking forward to a more business-oriented policy environment”, while another said, “Before [the election] I felt we had no chance, I am now optimistic that we do have a chance to grow.”

However, in contrast, a respondent said that neither government, Labor nor the Coalition, had helped small business.

“In particular in my sector (health), the policies are skewed towards large corporations and/or economic issues rather than actually providing effective and efficient services for people who most need them,” they said.

Respondents also indicated that one in three SMEs intended to “buddy up” with other businesses in a marketing push in 2014.

Other insights included views on red tape, cash flow, superannuation, investment, social media use, financial planning and plans for growth.

For the full report, look out for the SmartCompany – Crowe Horwath SME Directions e-book, which will be released on SmartCompany in the coming days.

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