More SME employees are happy at work in Munster than in Leinster, survey finds

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From L-R - Director of the Small Firms Association Sven Spollen-Brehens, Vodafone Ireland Director of Enterprise Regina Moran and Abodoo Chief Digital Officer Louise O’Connor

Over 50% of SME employees in Leinster (excluding Dublin) feel happy in the workplace compared to 60% of employees in Munster, a new survey has found. 

This stat is one of many research findings featured in a new industry-led report called The Future of Business in Ireland – a Conversation with SMEs.

The report, commissioned by Vodafone Ireland, was published on Tuesday following engagement with more than 600 SME employers and employees and offers insight from the sector on future business growth, investment, trends in technology and smart working.

The research, particularly when considering regionalised data, highlights clear trends among SMEs and how the workplace environment is changing in different parts of Ireland. 

According to the research, 52% of SME employees in Leinster (outside of Dublin) feel confident about the future prospects of their company (versus 62% in Connaught/Ulster, 60% in Dublin, with Munster coming in highest at 67%).

Additionally, 52% of Leinster employees are happy in their workplace (versus Dublin 59%, Connaught /Ulster 58% and Munster 60 %).

The national figures show there is significant optimism in the sector overall with nearly 90% of SMEs predicting growth between now and 2021.

This optimism was shared by employees, with 60% confident about the future prospects of their company.

When asked about investment, 53% of Leinster SME business owners surveyed confirmed that they plan to invest in their business within the next 12 months; with the majority (68%) being spent on sales, followed by staff retention and recruitment (61%), and customer service and support (55%).

In fact, 62% of SME’s in Leinster plan to increase technology investment within the next 1-5 years. However, 74% see barriers to growth, with 44% seeing it come from Brexit, and 40% seeing it come from lack of opportunity in the market.

This report is the first of a series be published as part of a new initiative called Open Conversations which aims to build awareness and dialogue among Irish businesses to ensure continued growth.

When looking at digital skills, 24% of Leinster employees felt that they did not have the necessary skills required for their role, with a further 21% unsure whether they had the relevant digital skills required.4

Director of Enterprise at Vodafone Ireland, Regina Moran said: "What is evident is that employee expectations have changed and that businesses in Ireland need to accommodate that change.

“With more than 95% of Ireland’s business economy made up of SMEs, it’s never been more important for Irish businesses to talk to each other and it is vital for us to understand the sector to serve it better, help businesses realise their connected ambition and contribute to their future sustainability."

Sven Spollen-Behrens from the Small Firms Association said: "The economy is growing and so is Ireland’s vital SME sector. However, we need to take measures to protect this growth.

"Whilst we are seeing confidence among our members we also see concerns around our competitiveness especially in light of Brexit. Challenges like attracting and retaining talent, the increasing cost of doing business in Ireland and a tax system that puts smaller businesses at a disadvantage need to be addressed."