NZ SME sector job creation on decline in 2013

20 Aug 2013

  • Most employment opportunities in mid-sized businesses
  • Fewer lay-offs likely in SME sector

The increasing pace of recovery and record business confidence is not likely to translate into a significant number of new jobs in the SME sector this year, according to a new analysis of employment intentions.

According to a review of three years of employment data from the MYOB Business Monitor, the proportion of SME employers intending to take on new staff in the year to February 2014 is just 8%. This has fallen from 11% who said in 2011 that they would take on new staff over the next year and 11% who said the same in 2012. However, the proportion intending to maintain existing staff levels rose from 66% over the previous two years, to 72% in 2013.

MYOB New Zealand general manager – business division, James Scollay, says the local SME job market has remained fairly stable over the post-recession period.

“This is good news for the around one-third of all New Zealanders employed by a small to medium business owner, giving them confidence about their employment prospects. This should translate into stable consumer spending and investment,” he says.

“But despite a growing confidence right across the SME sector, what we haven’t seen yet is a significant improvement in employment intentions. In fact, fewer employers expect to take on new staff in 2013.

“In times of uncertainty, it’s natural for business owners – especially those with no or few employees – to bunker down rather than lift their investment in people. The state of the local economy directly impacts their confidence in the future of their business and they take less risk in investing in new staff members. This has obvious ramifications for the broader public given the proportion of New Zealanders who are, and could be, employed by SMEs.

“This is something we hope to see change so more households can enjoy the benefits of improved growth spreading across the whole country.”

Mr Scollay notes the first signs of improvement in the SME employment market appear to be emerging among mid-sized businesses, saying, “While employment intentions among businesses with fewer than 20 employees have fallen in the last year – particularly among small businesses with between 6 and 19 employees – more and more mid-sized businesses are looking to take on staff.”

“This is a very positive sign, not only because it signals more direct employment opportunities for New Zealanders, but also because the growth of mid-sized businesses tends to flow through to the many SMEs they work with.”

Mr Scollay says taking on staff can be a major step for smaller businesses, as the employment process increases the number of compliance issues they have to deal with.

“As a country, we need to focus on ways to make dealing with taxation and employment as easy as possible for SMEs. They’re often the first source of employment, particularly for young New Zealanders. One way to do this is to streamline their compliance obligations and reduce the cost of employment,” he says.

“To drive a healthy domestic economy, we must encourage smaller business operators to persist with their plans for growth. We must provide a better environment for them to succeed through reduced red tape, better training and stronger support channels.

“MYOB has taken this journey. We understand the big difference this kind of encouragement and care can make in helping a business owner realise their potential. Few ventures succeed without continued industry, government and public support.”

MYOB has a guide for new and existing employers, covering a range of compliance issues as well as best practice guidelines, available for local businesses at


For further information or immediate comment, please contact:

Kristy Sheppard


Tel: 09 925 3560

Mob: +61 407 450 860


Gerard Blank

The Agency Communications Limited

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About MYOB New Zealand

Established in 1991, MYOB is New Zealand's largest business management solutions provider. It makes life easier for approx. 1.2 million businesses across New Zealand and Australia, by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and now spends more than NZ$35 million annually on research and development. In 2013, MYOB expanded its offerings with the acquisition of accounting solutions provider BankLink. For more information, visit

About the MYOB business monitor

The MYOB Business Monitor is a national survey of 1,000+ New Zealand small and medium business owners and managers, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, representing the major industry sectors. It has run since 2009, commissioned to independent market research firm Colmar Brunton. This most recent survey ran late January/early February 2013. The Monitor researches business performance and attitudes in areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline, technology usage and the government. The weighting of respondents by both geographical location and sector is based on overall market proportions as established by Statistics New Zealand and is drawn from an independent survey group, which includes both MYOB clients and non-clients.