The study, from Vistage, also found that a majority (84 per cent) of companies anticipate revenue will continue to improve in the same period of time.
Given the rise in economic optimist managing directs are focusing on two main areas to support their business in the new normal – talent acquisition and a hybrid workforce. In fact 91 per cent of CEOs believe that attracting qualified talent is crucial; 98% consider creating a strong organisational culture as important or very important.
Additionally a whopping 75 per cent of companies will continue to offer employees the option to work from home in an effort to accommodate the growing hybrid workplace trend.
Vistage’s quarterly SME CEO Confidence Index rebounds to 129 points from a low of 66.3 points in Q2 2020.
• 3 in 4 business leaders (74 per cent) expect the overall economic conditions in the UK and Ireland to improve in the next 12 months
• 84 per cent of businesses anticipate revenues will improve in the next 12 months
• A significant majority of firms (64 per cent) expect profitability to improve in the next 12 months
• Over 2 in 3 business leaders (70 per cent) believe they will continue to hire new employees over the course of this year
• Almost half (45 per cent) of UK and Irish businesses have the cash reserves to support their businesses for more than a year
• 94 per cent of SMEs believe retaining existing staff as important or very important
SME leaders have identified talent acquisition and retention as a key business objective in the next few months with 98 per cent of CEOs saying they consider creating a strong organisational culture as important or very important. Furthermore, 91 per cent of businesses believe that attracting qualified talent as important or very important to their business.
Employee engagement is also a key priority for UK and Irish SMEs in in the next 12 months. Over 94 per cent of CEOs consider employee engagement to be important or very important. And a similar number of respondents (94 per cent) revealed that training and development is important or very important for their businesses’ success moving forward.
Work-from-home vs. Office
UK and Irish companies are making plans for a hybrid workforce. 75 per cent of companies will continue to offer employees the option to work from home in an effort to accommodate the growing workplace trend as well as to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Just over half (52 per cent) of firms also believe that the latest lockdown has had no impact on their business.
Vistage Managing Director (UK), Geoff Lawrence said: “The rapid rollout of the vaccine across the country has potentially led to business confidence hitting its highest levels. Our survey results suggests that SMEs in the UK and Ireland are due for a significant rebound as we enter the final stages of the current lockdown. Additionally, government support from furlough to business rates measures have had the intended effect of helping small businesses regain some stability in the current situation. We anticipate that although there is a long way to go before businesses can recover to pre-crisis levels, there is every indication that UK and Irish businesses can come back stronger and better.
“SME leaders need to ensure they have revisited and revised their strategy and business models to exploit the expected growth in customer demand as well as to steal a march on their competitors. The marketplace has changed, and so must their business.”