Retaining skilled staff is the number one priority for businesses during the global financial crisis, according to a survey by the Australian Institute of Management.
The survey of more than 500 small to large firms during December and January, found 59 per cent said keeping their best and brightest employees was the best way to position their businesses during the downturn.
While skilled employees were most unlikely to be retrenched, the survey also found 20 per cent of businesses expected to sack staff and downsize as a result of the economic slowdown.
Australian Institute of Management (Victoria and Tasmania) chief executive Susan Heron said it was important companies retained their key employees. "Companies need to have the confidence to invest in their business and recognise that skilled, well trained people 'drive' performance."
The survey found 87 per cent of businesses were confident of surviving the full impact of the slowdown and believed the Australian economy was well-placed to weather the difficult period ahead.
In terms of the impact so far, 55 per cent of respondents said their businesses had suffered a loss in revenue, while 38 per cent had experienced a reduction in orders and 33 per cent had a decline in request for quotations. Only 11 per cent of businesses said they had not been impacted by the crisis.
The survey also showed larger firms - defined as those employing more than 201 people - were the worst affected by the turmoil on global markets.