9 in 10 Australian leaders optimistic about company growth

But survey finds employees don't share same level of confidence

9 in 10 Australian leaders optimistic about company growth

Nearly nine in 10 business leaders in Australia are confident of company growth this year, according to a new report from Robert Half.

Findings from its independent research revealed that 89% of business leaders are more confident this year than they did in 2023.

Their confidence in company growth is mostly driven by expanding business opportunities, according to the report. Others cited:

  • Increased product or service demand (42%)
  • An improved economic situation (38%)
  • Increased financial resources or budget (36%)

Nicole Gorton, director at Robert Half, said the findings indicate that organisations are entering their "proactive mode" this year.

"From a business leader's perspective, increasingly positive sentiment and encouraging employment numbers are early indicators that 2024 is going to be a year of recovery and growth, which explains their increased confidence in their company's growth," Gorton said in a statement.

Employees pessimistic about growth

Despite the confidence displayed by business leaders, employees are less confident about their organisation's growth prospects due to the cost-of-living pressures.

Robert Half found that only 72% of employees are confident that business conditions will improve this year, with many citing their lack of enthusiasm to the worsening economic situation (74%).

"Continued financial stresses placed upon household budgets, caused by recent mortgage interest rate rises and the rising cost of living may be behind why workers overwhelmingly see a different economic situation than their employers and therefore hold less growth confidence than them," Gorton said.

Meanwhile, other employees attributed their growth pessimism to the following factors:

  • Reduced business opportunities (40%)
  • Lack of financial resources or budget (33%)
  • Restructuring or transformation uncertainty (26%)

Younger employees more confident about jobs

Robert Half also discovered that Millennials have the highest confidence (82%) when it comes to company growth prospects, followed by Gen Z employees (80%).

Employees from the Gen X and Baby Boomers generations are also mostly optimistic, with 76% and 65%, respectively, but they don't appear to be as confident as younger staff.

Gorton attributed their lack of confidence to the "continued squeeze on company profit margins," which she said may be "unnerving" to older employees.

"However, as the national unemployment rate flatlines and interest rates are put on hold, Gen Z and Millennial employees may be more confident that better times lie ahead," Gorton said.

Australia's unemployment rate stayed at 3.9% in December 2023, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but businesses also pointed out that more than 100,000 full-time jobs were lost in December.

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