Keeping jobs, new tech a priority for SA’s SMEs
Preserving jobs was a top priority for half of the South Africa’s SMEs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey by Kaspersky.
The top challenge, cited by just over half (53%) of respondents, was in introducing new technologies to better withstand tougher trading conditions.
Kaspersky commissioned independent firm Arlington Research to survey 3 150 senior decision makers involved in budgeting in companies with less than 250 employees. The research was carried out in 22 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, between April and May this year.
According to the cyber security company, work satisfaction and engagement of employees has become more critical than ever, particularly for small businesses struggling through the lockdowns.
Strong teams are also more likely to be able to cope with the uncertainty that the pandemic and lockdowns have brought, it said.
Team retention emerged as a priority for organisations, despite many facing budget cuts (45%), reduced pay or working hours (38%), or temporarily shuttering offices or branches (49%). Just less than half the respondents (46%) in South Africa said they were planning on increasing spend on salaries and personnel benefits in the next year.
A top priority for the majority of all those surveyed (53%) was giving staff the technologies, equipment, communication and collaboration services to switch business from offline to online, and allowing them to work remotely or follow a hybrid model.
A global perspective
The global findings revealed that the pandemic has hit small businesses hard, with 38% saying they had to cut their budget to survive, and another 35% reducing salaries.
Two-thirds (66%) said their overall financial wellbeing had worsened during the pandemic.
More than a third (34%) closed their premises; a quarter (24%) cut IT spend and tech support, and 19% cut spending on for cyber security. Twelve percent reported having to lay off staff.
Just over half (52%) of the SMEs surveyed globally also think current financial difficulties are likely to become permanent ones. Meanwhile, 29% said they had launched new products, and 21% had entered new business sectors.
Reshaping work processes
Andrey Dankevich, a senior product marketing manager at Kaspersky, said reshaping working processes had become critical for business owners and executives in order to save jobs and keep their operations running.
“Fortunately, there are many easy-to-manage services available, including free ones, so they can do this even if they do not have a dedicated IT administrator or additional budget. However, it’s important to ensure digital tools are used safely and to educate employees on security awareness, not only for their convenience, but to protect their business from cyber threats,” he said.