New research reveals that SMEs’ revenue and profit have both increased in the last month and sentiment regarding the Australian and global economies has continued to strengthen post-COVID.
The latest COVID-19 SME Tracker, conducted in partnership with Ovation, reports that SMEs have moved quickly reactivated staff recruitment, with 25 per cent of those surveyed now trying to fill vacant roles compared to 18 per cent in October.
However, the ongoing shortage of qualified candidates available in the talent market continues to hinder the recovery, so SMEs are pushing for the return of skilled migrants as soon as possible. They very much hope that the government does not further the delay in opening international borders due to the Omicron variant.
While SMEs remain cautious about growth expectations over the next 12 months, sentiment regarding investment in equipment, people and marketing is on the rise. While demand for finance remains flat (12 per cent), as cashflow issues diminish, the need for equipment finance has again spiked this month.
In line with lockdowns ending the proportion of employees working from home has quickly dropped to 34 per cent compared to 51 per cent in October. Moving forward, 40 per cent of SMEs will use a hybrid work model, including 14 per cent who will allow staff to work from home as much as they choose. SMEs also report a significant increase in support for vaccination mandates, that figure rising to 43 per cent from 30 per cent in October.
Satisfaction with the Federal Government continues to tick up as business conditions become more favourable, but SMEs in QLD are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their government as border closures and restrictions remain in place. Sentiment in VIC also remains very negative.
“In summary, SMEs are gearing up as activity rebounds and the chase for talent accelerates with expectations for the Christmas period and early 2022 looking much more positive,” ACA Research Managing Director, James Organ, said. “While the Omicron variant may again dent confidence in the short term, current sentiment towards the Australian and global economies continues to increase and hence investment intentions are becoming stronger.”