SMEs fight for top talent

Irish SMEs are making up ground on their larger competitors when it comes to attracting employees, according to new research.

Smaller Irish SMEs have long struggled to attract staff ahead of large multinationals in the so-called “war on talent”.

Better remuneration and more attractive benefits have traditionally made hiring more difficult for SMEs and startups but that gap is gradually closing, research from recruitment group Hays shows.

The emergence of smaller companies as competitors to the large multinationals means staff retention measures are becoming increasingly important, according to Hays Ireland managing director, Richard Eardley.

“As economic conditions continue to improve, recruitment is firmly back on the agenda for the vast majority of organisations in Ireland.

Irish employees are becoming increasingly confident about their future prospects and are taking the opportunity to look for new roles.

“Furthermore, increased business confidence, strong economic growth and major job creation announcements in recent months have not gone unnoticed by employees.

“Given all these factors, it is now more important than ever before for employers to focus on retention and development strategies in order to retain their staff in an increasingly competitive market,” Mr Eardley said.

The emergence of SMEs as competitors is evident across a range of sectors including accountancy and finance, insurance, financial services and life sciences.

The report also finds that almost two-thirds of Irish employees are expecting a pay rise in the next 12 months.

The finding will come as a concern to business representative bodies which have advocated wage restraint in order to protect the country’s competitiveness.

Despite a pickup in the general business environment, salary increases have remained relatively modest to date, with some notable exceptions in IT, construction and finance, according to the report.

Overall, more than a third (35%) of employers said salaries have increased by 2.5% or more in the last 12 months, with 65% stating that salaries have increased by less than 2.5%, remained the same or even decreased.

Echoing recent surveys, Hays’ research also suggests a huge appetite for change among workers with 81% of professionals looking to change jobs within the next two years.


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