The latest results from MYOB's Business Monitor surveys of SME operators show that most of them are satisfied with their work-life balance, but see staffing as a particular issue.
A dominating 65 percent of respondents reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their work-life balance, but 17 percent see meeting their employees' demand for flexible working hours as a pain point.
"To retain key staff, giving people some flexibility and autonomy is going to be really important," said MYOB CEO Tim Reed.
"It seems small business is really delivering on this point, with more than two thirds (68 percent) utilising teleworking in their businesses. Teleworking was more likely to be used by franchisors, construction and trades and business, professional services and property businesses."
Other related issues included dealing with payroll compliance (21 percent), the hiring process (19 percent) and the ability to dismiss employees (also 19 percent). Perhaps it's worth pointing out that one party's red tape is another's essential legal protection.
But first on the list was finding new staff, said to be a top challenge for 27 percent of respondents.
Yet the official unemployment rate is 5.8 percent (December 2015), while Roy Morgan Research's unofficial estimate puts it as high as 9.7 percent with more than one and a quarter million people looking for work.
Despite - or possibly because of - online recruitment platforms such as Seek, as a nation we seem to be doing poorly when it comes to matching jobseekers with small businesses that are looking for staff.
Why "because of"? The movement from traditional employment advertising in printed publications and cards at the CES may have made it too quick and easy to apply for any job that remotely interests a candidate. It has definitely reduced the actual cost by eliminating the need for a stamp. (Remember the days when pretty much the only 'spam' that arrived in the post was for the Readers Digest Sweepstakes?)
Consequently, any vacancy is likely to attract a large number of applications, and for SMEs that usually means significant time and effort to wade through them. Larger organisations typically use automated systems (either on their own account or operated by recruitment companies) to filter out the majority of applications, but that turns the process into even more of a game than it ever was as candidates are fortunate if a human ever sees their applications, even for the briefest of glances.