Health and Safety Act fuelling uncertainty
Hiring skilled employees and understanding health and safety compliance top the list of pain points for local businesses according to the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey.
The survey of more than 1,000 small to medium sized businesses across New Zealand highlights that 41 per cent are struggling to find staff, while 36 per cent are experiencing difficulties understanding health and safety compliance and 29 per cent are unsure of their obligations when it comes to dismissing an employee.
MYOB Head of Small Business Ingrid Cronin-Knight says hiring the right staff is fundamental to the growth and development of any business.
“Skill shortages have been a significant problem for some time now, with sectors such as construction, IT, manufacturing, retail and hospitality crying out for skilled workers,” Ms Cronin-Knight says.
“Having access to quality staff that bring the right skills and experience to the workforce is hugely important for New Zealand’s continued economic development.
Businesses in construction and trades (54 per cent) and retail and hospitality (50 per cent) reported feeling the most pressure from skills shortages, she says.
At the same time, there has been a marked increase in uncertainty surrounding health and safety obligations, particularly in the rural sector.
Following the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act in April this year, half of all rural business operators now cite health and safety compliance as an issue for their business - an 11 per cent increase in 12 months.
Concern with health and safety compliance also feature in the manufacturing sector with 45 per cent of operators highlighting it as an issue, compared to 26 per cent a year ago.
Ms Cronin-Knight says that although the law changes were well publicised at the time, there is more work to be done to realise good health and safety practices.
“It’s really important that businesses and employees, no matter what size or industry they’re in, understand the latest compliance obligations,” she says.
“A business’s primary duty under the new law to ensure the health and safety of not only employees, but anyone affected by the work it carries out. Workers too, must take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others and comply with their workplace’s policies.
“If you’re not sure about your obligations then it is best to familiarise yourself with the Act, and reach out if you need extra assistance.”
Twenty-nine per cent of SME owners are also worried about the obligations that come with dismissing an employee.
“Exiting someone from your workplace can be hugely stressful and costly for small business owners. It’s no wonder almost a third of respondents highlighted it as a pain point for their operation,” says Ms Cronin-Knight.
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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 in July/August 2016. 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.