Small businesses are beginning to feel the stresses of skilled worker shortages, forcing some to offer hefty pay increases, a new survey has found.
Business consultants Grant Thornton found that 83 per cent of privately owned small and medium enterprises are expecting to offer their employees a payrise during the next 12 months.
Of those respondents in the survey of 75 businesses, ranging from 20 to 299 employees in size, 14 per cent said they would offer employees a rise above the rate of inflation.
"Privately held business is beginning to feel the stresses of a few years ago when it was hard to find the appropriately skilled people," Grant Thornton Australia partner Bill Shew said releasing the survey results today.
While Australia was almost at full employment, indicating a strong economy, small businesses were being affected by the uncertainty and negativity surrounding the current political landscape.
"It is difficult to plan for, and fund, future growth when major reforms such as the carbon tax and the minerals resource rent tax continued to be debated," Mr Thornton said.
Privately held businesses that are exposed to foreign exchange also are especially cautious of events in Europe, although businesses generally are unsettled by the overseas crisis affecting local markets.
Still, Mr Shew said there been continued strengthening in relationships between small businesses and their banks.
"Australian privately held businesses are starting to feel that they are receiving increased support from their banks," he said, adding there have been more discussions about facilitating growth and stability.
Grant Thornton's latest international business report found that Australia was the only one of nine nations in the global economy to maintain an optimistic outlook among privately held businesses.