The past 12 months have proven particularly challenging for Australian businesses. Faced with everything from cyberattacks and supply chain disruptions, to uncertain economic conditions and staff shortages, many have had to make significant changes to their operations. The coming year is likely to deliver more of the same. Business leaders will need to remain nimble and prepared to make changes as they are required
As planning for the new year kicks into high gear, here are seven key factors to keep in mind.
1. Current uncertainty will continue
There were a range of unanticipated events that shaped 2022, and many will likely persist in 2023. The war in Europe will continue to disrupt energy deliveries and supply chains in many parts of the world. For Australia, the knock-on effects cannot be avoided. It is important for business leaders to realise that forces out of their control will continue to have potentially significant impacts on their organisations. Even though many people are feeling fatigued after the events of the previous 12 months, they must remain focused on preparing for the year ahead.
2. Inflation is here to stay
Despite the best efforts of the Reserve Bank of Australia, high inflation will remain with us well into 2023. As well as having implications for businesses that rely on direct consumer spending, this will also make conditions challenging for organisations in the business-to-business sector. On the flipside, these economic conditions may also help organisations to retain staff, as they will be more reluctant to resign when mortgage rates are on the rise. Expect the so-called ‘great resignation’ to fade away during the coming year.
3. Cybersecurity will remain a top priority
In the wake of high-profile cyberattacks, such as those suffered by Optus and Medibank, cybersecurity will remain a critical focus for Australian businesses. Attention will be further heightened in the wake of new laws being considered by the Australian Government that significantly increase the penalties for organisations that suffer breaches resulting in the loss of personal data.
4. Hybrid working patterns will continue to evolve
The combination of at-home and in-office working that arose during the pandemic lockdowns is likely to remain a feature of business life during the coming year. While many firms have welcomed this new pattern, others are pressuring staff to return to the office for a full five-day working week. Expect to see ongoing negotiation between managers and staff as new models are examined and trialled.
5. Strategic planning horizons will be shortened
With uncertain economic and geopolitical conditions likely to remain, the common 12-month planning cycle will need shortening. All plans will need to be constantly reviewed to ensure they remain relevant and achievable. Remember, while unforeseen events may make some plans redundant, the planning process is still indispensable when navigating challenging situations.
6. Effective corporate governance will be vital
Having a program of strong corporate governance in place will be critical throughout 2023. Senior management teams need to feel confident they have all business risks identified and measures in place to control them.
7. Workplace equality should remain a key goal
One of the most important areas of focus for businesses during 2023 should be ensuring there is movement toward equality in the workplace. Employers need to get this right to both attract new talent and retain the staff they have. Achieving equality requires both a stated strategy and practical steps initiated at all levels.
These are just some of the key themes that will help to shape the year ahead. By being aware of them and acknowledging that general conditions are likely to remain as uncertain as they were in 2022, businesses can feel more prepared for the unpredictable.
Peter Murphy is Director and Co-Founder of Atturra Advisory & Consulting. He works with senior leaders to help them resolve complex organisational and operational issues. He has key expertise in strategy development, enterprise risk, lessons learnt, and program development and implementation.