Chasing the festive dollar - business research

NEW research has found that regional NSW small to medium businesses (SMBs) will be much more likely to be found at work over the Christmas period compared to their Sydney counterparts, with 70 per cent set to stay open during this time, or only take leave on public holidays, compared to 55 per cent of Sydney businesses.

This research conducted by Telstra business, shows that on average, one in three Australian SMBs are choosing to forgo a break this Christmas in favour of financial gain, by staying open or working longer hours. 

However, despite staying open during the Christmas period, regional NSW SMBs are some of the least likely to have initiatives in place to keep staff motivated over the summer period – only 10 per cent – compared to 30 per cent of regional and rural SMBs in SA and WA, 14 per cent of regional SMBs in Victoria and only slightly above regional and rural SMBs in QLD where only 8 per cent have initiatives in place. 

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that 26 per cent of regional NSW businesses are expecting productivity drops this summer.

A further one in four SMBs will keep their doors open every day, except public holidays, to gain a share of the expected $16.2 billion Australians are predicted to shell out over the festive season.

The research by Telstra of 1000 Australian SMBs also found 31 per cent will experience a drop in productivity over summer, yet only 16 per cent say they have initiatives in place to counteract the slump.

Telstra Small Business Sales and Service executive director John Boniciolli said the end of the year presented a unique challenge for many SMBs as they juggled work, family and social commitments, while keeping staff momentum up and capitalising on customer opportunities. 

But new technology, such as smartphones and tablets, allowed businesspeople to work remotely, video conference for face-to-face meetings and ultimately have greater flexibility in their working arrangements, he said.

Telstra’s research also found: 

* 89 per cent of SMBs see work/life balance as important, but only 50 per cent actually have it;

* Businesses who use smart technology are more likely to have a better work/life balance (52 per cent) than those who don’t use smart technology (44 per cent); and 

* 23 per cent of small businesses who do plan to take a break report they are nervous to do so – fearing lost opportunity.

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