Hiring staff a priority

Hiring Staff: A Priority and a Challenge for SMEs, Study Finds

A new study conducted by American Express and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has found that SMES appreciate the importance of hiring great staff – but are struggling to do so.

The Money Challenge

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the SMEs surveyed said that hiring new staff has been their most important business decision, although 20% said their biggest decision has been choosing suppliers and 19% named investment in technology.

However, despite an awareness of how important the recruitment of great staff is, many SMEs are finding it a challenge. 27% said they worry about how they will finance the hiring of new employees. This ties in with the SMEs’ top worries – rising costs and how to fund future spending. Yet a fifth of respondents said that if their revenue were to double. the first thing they would invest in would be more staff.

Interestingly, though, this focus seems to change as businesses grow. A third of the medium sized businesses with a doubled revenue would invest in new technology before staff – only 22% would make new staff their first investment.


The Skills Challenge

Having the money to hire new staff isn’t the only problem facing SMEs, though. Even when they have the funds, they can’t always find the faces – the potential employees with the rights skills.

More than a third of the small businesses surveyed said that a lack of the necessary expertise among applicants was their main recruiting challenge. Medium-sized SMEs reported a greater difficulty in this area; while 35 per cent of small companies said the biggest obstacle to hiring staff was short supply of expertise, among medium sized businesses, this figure rose to 42%.

Jose Carvalho, Senior Vice-President at American Express, who commissioned the research, commented: “There are many hurdles on the path to business growth and securing top talent is key priority for ambitious SMEs. Whether expanding at home or globally, business owners are looking for partners that can help them attract and retain staff, whether that’s through payment cards which enable rewards earnt on business spend to be gifted to employees, employee expense management solutions or cross-border payment tools to help ensure companies can smoothly pay employees based abroad. SMEs want hassle free solutions which help ensure they are in full control of their cash flow.”


Kara Copple
An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.