Recently published research has illustrated that there is a strong level of optimism from Australia’s SME community, with the large majority of smes operating at pre-pandemic levels within the next six months.

The research gathered by Intuit QuickBooks Australia indicates that 81 percent of the business owners surveyed are confident that they will return to pre-pandemic levels within the next six-month timeframe. According to the research smes operating at pre-pandemic is quite possible according to the business owner themselves.

“Aussie small businesses have done it tough over the course of the pandemic, especially those in Melbourne who endured the longest lockdown in the world. We’re thrilled to see the economy starting to recover, and to hear that small businesses feel hopeful about the future,” Lars Leber, vice-president and country manager at Intuit QuickBooks Australia said.

The research has also shed light on efforts being made towards vaccination rates.

According to the research, mandating vaccines and supporting the vaccination efforts is the top priority for 47 percent of Australian small businesses surveyed. Following this, were the opening of domestic and international borders 44 percent, ongoing grants programs 30 percent, networking opportunities 22 percent and training opportunities 21 percent.

The research also went on to ask what types of support would small businesses would like to see from their local community, more than half 55 per cent said their number one ask of Australians was to get vaccinated. The second most common respond was for customer to favor local small businesses.

Meanwhile, 58 percent of respondents said mental health, the wellbeing of employees and work/life balance were their most important focuses.

“We’ve seen a notable shift in small businesses prioritizing the health and wellbeing of their employees, showing how the pandemic has made everyone reconsider what’s most important. They still need the support of the government and Aussie consumers and want to see continued vaccine uptake.” said Lars Leber.

SMEs operating at pre-pandemic would be beneficial for the business owners and consumers as well.

Wage Growth Continues to Increase Across Australia

Wage growth figures across Australia have continued to rise closer to the levels recorded prior to the start of the covid-19 pandemic. This trend has occurred despite covid lockdowns still occurring across most of the eastern cost of Australia during the September quarter when the data was collected.

The latest figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that wages increased by 0.6 percent during the September 2021 quarter. These figures were a 2.2 percent increase when compared to the figures from the year prior recorded during September 2020.

“Wage and salary reviews around the end of the financial year, scheduled enterprise agreements and annual award rises all contributed to growth. Pockets of wage pressure continued to build for skilled construction-related, technical and business services roles, leading to larger ad hoc rises as businesses looked to retain experienced staff and attract new staff,” said Michelle Marquardt, the head of prices statistics at the ABS.

The ABS can reveal that lawyers are one of the professions who are currently experiencing the most significant pay rise. Competition is increasing for junior lawyers. As a result of this it is not just Australia where lawyers are in demand. A large number of Australian solicitors are deciding to move overseas to countries like the UK and the USA to fill a large number of vacancies in the profession, this consequently is triggering a brain drain locally in Australia. 

Over the past 12 months, growth in the private sector through the year increased by 2.4 percent, continuing the pattern of increases in annual growth since the series low in September quarter 2020.

The public sector through the year growth rose 1.7 percent, the first increase in the rate after slowing in each quarter since March quarter 2020.

Private sector wages rose 0.6 percent in September quarter 2021 in line with pre-pandemic September quarters. The September 2021 quarter saw more employers conducting salary reviews than observed at the same time last year, when covid-19 had a bigger influence on business operations. Small, isolated pockets of demand across a number of industries saw larger increases paid to attract and retain experienced staff.

Wage growth for the public sector rose to 0.5 percent and has continued to track below the private sector since September quarter 2020. This quarter saw a return to regular scheduled increases after a period of public sector wage freezes.