SME recruitment plans double
SME recruitment plans increase by more than double
Happiness in the workplace on the up as recovery takes hold says business funder
The number of businesses looking to recruit is rising at its highest rate since the deepest point of the recession, according to new analysis of the sentiment of small and medium-sized enterprises stretching back to 2009.
Since 2009, funding specialist Bibby Financial Services has polled 500 business owners each quarter on matters such as sales performance, investment plans, supplier relationships and staff morale.
The picture that has emerged from the data shows a dramatic upturn in optimism at the end of 2013, highlighted in key areas. Though recruitment fluctuated throughout the four year period, with a low of seven per cent in Q4 2011, the latest data shows at the end of 2013, one in four (25 per cent) of firms were planning to recruit - exceeding all previous levels.
David Postings, UK CEO at Bibby Financial Services, said the findings reflected the current level of confidence among SMEs, which could offer an indication of wider growth in the first quarter of 2014.
Postings said: “It has been said many times that sustainable economic recovery would not be achievable without businesses investing and recruiting.
“Our analysis stretching back over four years suggests there has been a significant step-change among SMEs who are now looking to plan for the future. This could translate into further growth this year and the Government will be eager to see GDP figures when they are announced on April 29.”
Almost a third (29 per cent) of business owners reported happier staff in the last quarter of 2013, compared with a four year low of 14 per cent just months earlier in Q2. It is hoped that staff morale will continue to rise, surpassing its highest point during the study of 45 per cent at the end of 2009.
Postings said: “Optimism is cascading down through the workforce of the as business owners are reporting that staff are happier, which is really encouraging.”
The invoice finance specialist, however, warned that business owners need to consider their cashflow positions if they are to make recruitment plans a reality.
Postings added: “It’s crucial that businesses looking to recruit have suitable funding in place, otherwise these plans could be a nonstarter.
“The businesses we work with have working capital solutions in place, providing steady cashflow; enabling them to expand operations and recruit more staff.”
This improved optimism is found in the face of real challenges, with half of SMEs saying they have faced cashflow issues over the past year, according to data from the specialist funder’s recent report Livelihood Businesses in the UK.