Firms must do more to retain staff: Findex report

Colin BrinsdenAAP
Australia's economy could contract 2.5 per cent as a result of lockdowns in the September quarter.
Camera IconAustralia's economy could contract 2.5 per cent as a result of lockdowns in the September quarter. Credit: AAP

Australia’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant is fully underway, and as long as the new Omicron strain doesn’t get in the way, solid economic growth is expected next year.

But despite this upbeat outlook, businesses are facing difficulty keeping staff or have noticed a drop in employee satisfaction.

A new survey by financial services firm Findex of more than 500 small and medium sized enterprises found over half of firms are concerned about their ability to retain staff over the next 12 months.

At the same time, a third have noticed a drop in staff satisfaction this year.

Despite the popularity of working from home during the pandemic, almost two thirds of businesses want their staff back in the office for most of the working week.

However, over half have not even consulted staff of their preferred working arrangements.

“What matters most to employees is very different in a post-COVID world, particularly when it comes to work-life balance and flexible working,” Findex chief people officer Jane Betts says.

“In an environment of skill shortages, immigration restrictions and greater talent mobility, hiring is becoming increasingly challenging. Businesses should be looking to do everything in their power to retain their current workforce.”

Falling staff satisfaction coincides with a separate survey showing cost of living pressures are starting to bite with more than half of Australians experiencing some sort financial stress.

The survey of 3000 Australians by data analytics platform Your Financial Wellness found many would struggle in a financial crisis.

Mortgage stress - as defined by more than 30 per cent of income being required to repay a mortgage - is expected to lift from 27 per cent to 42 per cent of respondents if interest rates were to rise by two per cent.

“Our latest analysis suggests that the issue of cost of living will be front and centre next year,” YFW chief executive Alex Hassall said.

“Many Australian households are increasingly paying more attention to their household budgets.”

Reserve Bank of Australia figures due on Tuesday will show to what degree credit increased in October.

Economists will also see the final inputs to Wednesday’s national accounts for the September quarter with international trade and government spending figures due.

At this stage forecasts point to a 2.5 per cent economic contraction as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns in the September quarter.

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