MEDIA RELEASE: November 30 2021: There is a long way to go, but the anticipated recovery is well underway as we approach the end of a challenging 2021 for SMEs. This month we can report revenue and profit have both increased and sentiment regarding the Australian and global economies has continued to strengthen.
Accordingly, SMEs have quickly reactivated staff recruitment with 25% now trying to fill vacant roles compared to 18% in October. However, the ongoing shortage of qualified candidates available in the talent market continues to hinder the recovery and hence SMEs will welcome the return of skilled migrants as soon as possible. Consequently, the delay in opening international borders due to the Omicron variant will be another body blow for SMEs.
The COVID-19 SME Tracker is conducted by leading business market research firm ACA Research in partnership with Ovation and tracks the impact of COVID-19 across more than 400 small and medium enterprises each month.
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%), 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% compared to 51% in October. Moving forward 40% of SMEs will use a hybrid work model, including 14% that will allow staff to work from home as much as they choose. As employees return to the workplace, SMEs of all sizes report a significant increase in vaccination mandates rising to 43% from 30% 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.
ACA Research, Managing Director, James Organ said: “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.
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.”
About the COVID-19 SME Monthly Tracker
- Based on responses from ~400 SMEs with up to 500 employees across all sectors in Australia, including metro and regional locations.
- This wave includes data collected from 4th to 16th November 2021.
- Each respondent is a financial decision maker/ influencer in their business.
- Data is weighted by state and number of employees to reflect the national distribution of businesses across the country.