It’s human nature to want to peek at what your neighbour’s doing – perhaps it’s a way of reassuring oneself that you’re on the right track.
The latest business index from consultancy firm Sage paints a polarised picture of the Australian business community, where businesses feel they are performing better now than they did in 2011 but are still pessimistic about what will happen during the next 12 months.
More than half of the surveyed organisations said they are either quite concerned or very concerned about growth prospects, and almost six in 10 reported deferring significant business decisions as a result. However, a curious trend emerged whereby female leaders were less concerned about growth prospects than their male colleagues. “What is particularly interesting about this year’s findings is that although both women and men are clearly concerned about the economy, women remain far less likely to defer business decisions in response to the economic conditions. They are at the forefront of thought leadership in terms of how to use social media to benefit their business,” Alan Osrin from Sage said.
Despite widespread concerns, just half of all businesses said they have put formal business plans in place to manage staffing issues.
HR challenges in 2012
Many Australian organisations have deferred pay rises and new hires
Recruitment and employee training have declined as business priorities since 2011
Almost 38% of businesses increased their use of contractors and part-time staff during the past year to fill gaps
35% of HR leaders are actively considering using older staff to help with staffing issues
Women more confident
Women are more confident about the business outlook for 2012 than their male counterparts
Female business owners reported less difficulty finding skilled staff than male colleagues
Women appear to be more organised when it comes to putting succession plans in place and are less likely to draw on contractors, part-timers and older staff to fill gaps
The index found that female business owners (49%) are far more engaged than males with technology, including social networking, Twitter and Facebook and use it as a business tool on a number of different communication levels
Rising costs defer business decisions
One in six (16%) businesses said they have postponed expenditure on staff training and education, despite the fact that almost six in ten businesses (59%) are struggling to find appropriately skilled staff.
Across all businesses there is a greater pessimism regarding Australia’s economic recovery in 2012. Just one fifth of all businesses believe that the domestic economy is mending.
This year almost six in 10 (59%) businesses expect to face the rising costs challenge, almost four in 10 (37%) see gaining new customers as a challenge and the same number expect to experience challenges in cash flow management.
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