Hiring intentions for the SME sector look rather bleak for 2018, if the results of two new surveys are indicative of the national trend.
A straw poll on the My Business website, conducted over the month between 6 December 2017 and 9 January 2018, found that close to half (43.9 per cent) of respondents intend to keep staff numbers roughly the same.
The poll of 148 readers also found that 29.8 per cent intend to add a couple more staff to their team, and just 5.4 per cent intend to go on a recruitment spree to add lots of new staff.
On the flip side, however, more than one in five businesses intend on shedding staff this year: 10.8 per cent said they would slightly reduce staff, while 10.1 per are expecting their reduction in staff numbers to be dramatic.
Meanwhile a larger survey of 506 respondents by virtual office provider Servcorp found an even smaller proportion of SMEs are looking to recruit additional staff this year, with just 16 per cent planning new hires.
That comes despite 48 per cent expecting strong revenue growth for the year.
“The New Year period is particularly busy for small business owners looking to grow and cement revenue growth in 2018. It is positive to witness this motivation and with so many preferring not to make hires, they are seeking more efficient or seasonal solutions to support higher yields,” said Liane Gorman, general manager ANZ at Servcorp.
Those efficiencies are likely to be automation technologies replacing manual processes, and potentially a shift towards a more casual/subcontractor focused workforce rather than full-time hires.