Hiring conditions better for small businesses

Small businesses are finding it easier to fill job vacancies and improve workplace conditions than their larger counterparts, according to a new survey from Bankwest.

The Bankwest Skill Shortage Survey, which surveyed 808 business executives in Australia, found that more than one in five small businesses (<20 staff) were less likely to report hiring difficulties, compared to 36 per cent of medium-sized businesses (20 to 199 staff) and 42 per cent of large businesses (200+ staff).

This comes as the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 5.6 per cent in March, according to ABS figures.

Additionally, 57 per cent of small businesses are more likely to improve workplace conditions, with this figure dropping eight per cent for large businesses. These workplace initiatives include offering flexible hours, implementing basic pay increases and additional financial incentives. In particular, 57 per cent of businesses employing less than 20 staff expect to become more flexible with working hours to attract and retain talented staff, compared to 49 per cent of large businesses.

But while expectations of pay increases were at the 45 per cent mark across the board, large businesses were more likely to provide financial incentives and relocation assistance than smaller businesses.

Despite the more positive data from small businesses, the sector is facing a number of other problems such as employee poaching, with 45 per cent of firms indicating employee turnover is increasing because of a skills shortage.

Moreover, a significant number of small firms have indicated that the skills shortage is causing some employees to work longer hours (62 per cent), delivering late on services or products (25 per cent) and turning down incoming work (31 per cent).

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