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7 in 10 Australian business leaders very confident of business growth in 2020

Independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half shows that Australian business leaders have among the highest levels of confidence in their 2020 business growth prospects of the thirteen countries polled.

High levels of business confidence have, in turn, resulted in expansive hiring plans for the next calendar year as nearly half (46%) plan to increase permanent staff numbers.

Positive growth sentiment in 2020

Robert Half’s latest survey indicates a buoyant business environment going into 2020. Almost seven in 10 of the 501 Australian business leaders surveyed cite very high levels of confidence, 13% above the international average of 56%. Amongst the thirteen countries surveyed, this level of confidence is exceeded only by Brazil (78%) and is on par with the United Arab Emirates (69%). Additionally, only 3% of Australia leaders indicate they have no confidence in their business prospects for the year ahead.

Business leaders in Australia were asked: “How confident are you in your company’s prospects for growth in the first half of 2020?”

Australia All countries
Very confident 69% 56%
Somewhat confident 28% 40%
Not at all confident 3% 4%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 5,165 international business leaders, including 501 from Australia.

Expanding business opportunities, economic climate, and access to talent key drivers influencing business confidence

When looking at the top three reasons influencing their level of confidence, expanding business opportunities (56% vs. 49% international average), the current economic climate (57% v. 54% international average), and attracting suitable talent (50% vs. 48% international average) are shared as the top considerations for many executives in Australia and across the globe.

Strong business confidence results in expanded permanent headcount

The majority of companies, ranging from large to small and across states, are planning to invest in their permanent headcount in the coming year.

When asked about their permanent hiring plans, 46% of Australian leaders say they will expand their headcount by adding new permanent positions, 8% above the international average of 38%. Another 37% plan to maintain their staff levels and only focus on filling vacated positions.

Following a four-year surge in the number of contingent roles created in the Australian professional sector, Australian companies are now prioritising filling vacant temporary roles rather than expanding their headcount.

Four in ten (40%) companies plan to maintain their current temporary staff headcount, 8% higher than the international average of 32%.

When asked for the top three reasons behind their employment plans, business leaders point to an increased workload as the key driver behind their hiring decisions (58% permanent / 46% temporary), followed by the current economic and business climate (51% permanent / 42% temporary) and employee turnover (51% permanent / 38% temporary).

“C-suite sentiment is positive, driven largely by public infrastructure investment, the recovery of the mining sector, as well as ongoing digitisation efforts and robust trade relations,” said Andrew Morris, Director at Robert Half Australia, in announcing today’s survey results.

“Our research shows that companies are capitalising on the opportunities this presents by investing in their permanent headcount to support their forward growth strategies, from expanded business operations to the implementation of new initiatives or investments.

“Rapid advances in technology are changing the way companies do business and in order to remain competitive in a global market, leaders should continue to employ a flexible staffing strategy that combines permanent and contract employees in order to gain access to niche, low supply skills while up-skilling the existing workforce at the same time.”

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