Recruiting new staff has become a top priority for UK small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) but employers admit that recruitment could be challenging in the economic environment.
A poll of more than 250 SMEs by alternative lender Capify found that more than one in three expect to increase the size of their workforce by over 10 per cent over the next 12 months but 36 per cent said it would be a challenge.
This was because of concerns about coronavirus cases and rising inflation, cited by 55 per cent and 34 per cent of respondents respectively.
Around 64 per cent of SMEs said they had accessed the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS), which has now closed, prompting warnings of a spike in unemployment.
“It’s positive to see UK SMEs putting their staff at the forefront of business strategy, with people and training coming as a top priority for the majority of businesses in our latest survey,” John Rozenbroek, chief financial officer at Capify, said.
“People are truly a business’s greatest asset and it’s encouraging to see so many SMEs valuing this in their future plans with clear plans to expand their workforces.
“We know that the small business community is resilient and it’s promising to see that many are optimistic about the future, with investment and future growth important priorities.”
He said the end of the furlough scheme, rising inflation and energy price issues were unsurprisingly playing on the minds of SMEs.
“It could be a challenging 12 months for SMEs in many sectors as margins become tighter – especially if increased overheads need to be managed alongside adding new staff.” he added.
“With future growth as a priority, SMEs must ensure strong cash flow in their business, no matter the industry. Alternative finance options have been instrumental in helping SMEs through this period and they will no doubt play a huge part in supporting growth goals for the future.”