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SMEs’ hiring/firing expectations for 2012 show marginally positive balance


Nearly 80% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Poland expect their staff levels to remain unchanged in 2012, and the proportion expecting an increase in employment compared with last year, while small, is higher than those anticipating a reduction, according to a CBOS survey for the Polish Confederation of Private Employers (PKPP) Lewiatan. The net balance of hiring/firing expectations in the SME sector is thus in positive territory, compared with a negative balance in a similar survey a year earlier, but it is far from impressive, and there are significant differences between industries and provinces. In general, SMEs in Poland are readier to increase wages than to take on new workers, the study shows.

Asked about their hiring/firing expectations for the whole of 2012, 78.1% of the surveyed SMEs said they expected employment levels to be where they were at the end of 2011, “if economic conditions allowed”. At the same time, 12.9% said they expected to record an increase in headcount while 8.9% said they were likely to register a decline. This translates into a net balance of +4.0 points compared with -2.9 a year ago.

By far the highest level of optimism was noted in the category “professional, scientific and technical activities”, with nearly a quarter of the respondents expecting an increase in employment and with a net balance of hiring/firing expectations for 2012 of +21.8 points. The manufacturing sector came second with a balance of +7.3, followed by hotels and restaurants (+7.1). By contrast, retail and wholesale trade had the lowest proportion of firms expecting an increase in staff levels (8.1%) and was the only sector with a negative net balance of hiring/firing expectations (-1.5).

Geographically, 12 provinces showed positive balances, led by Wielkopolskie (+18.7 points), Podlaskie (+16.2) and Malopolskie (15.0). Four had negative balances, led by Zachodniopomorskie (-9.7), a reflection of this region’s close ties with the German economy; followed by Slaskie (-3.0) and Lodzkie (-2.2).

At the same time, 27.5% of those surveyed expect wage levels at their company to increase in 2012, with just 7.8% anticipating a decline, translating into a net balance of +19.7 points. All sectors and provinces showed positive balances, in most cases at strong double-digit levels. However, SMEs have grown more accepting of staff turnover compared with last year, and while two thirds still identify investing in human capital as one of their priorities, other responses indicate that they tend to look elsewhere for the most important sources of competitive advantage, though attitudes differ between sectors.

The survey was conducted between 3 April and 10 July on a random sample of 1,500 SMEs.

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