What To Prioritise in 2022 If You’re a Small and Medium Businesses Owner
Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of Australia’s economy. They make up the bulk of the businesses currently operating across Australia and are a major source of employment for Australians. So, the saying “when small businesses do well, we all do well” is actually very true and apt.
The owners and leaders of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are under the pump at the moment, and have been so for the last two years, dealing with staff shortages, lockdowns, COVID—19 restrictions, optimising for a remote workforce, supply chain shortages, border closures, price instability, managing expenses, gaining visibility, and attracting customers.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
- Nearly a quarter (22%) of employing businesses have employees currently unavailable due to factors related to COVID-19.
- Almost half (47%) of all businesses are experiencing supply chain disruptions.
- Small businesses were more likely to be greatly impacted by supply chain disruptions (36%).
For business owners, sometimes it can be hard to see where your priorities lie or the areas you need to work on, especially when there seems to be so many other challenges and bills coming your way on a daily basis. However, during these times it’s important that leaders adapt to the changing conditions because embracing change is essential to the survival of small and medium sized businesses. We want our local small businesses to thrive and grow.
I have also included below a screenshot of the graph of three foundational elements to make and sustain progress in DEI that organisations need to follow from the recently released McLean & Company’s 2022 HR Trends Survey. This report is based on data gathered from 826 business professionals and was gathered in September 2021. The report also confirms that small business has 100 or fewer employees and medium have 101 to 2,000 employees.
It can be hard for small and medium business leaders and owners to pinpoint the priorities that they should focus on in 2022, so I have complied a list of some of the ways small businesses can prioritise.
- Hiring and Retaining Staff
Staff shortages and retaining staff are some of the most pressing challenges facing small businesses. According to the findings of a recent online poll by the Australian Retailers Association, 50% of businesses named staff shortages as their number 1 challenge going into 2022. The poll also confirmed:
- 76% of retail businesses say they currently have staff in isolation
- 50% of retail businesses ranked ‘staff shortages’ as the number one challenge at the moment with ‘lack of customers’ and ‘supply chain/delivery issues’ the next most pressing challenges
- A third of retail businesses (33%) say they have limited trading hours in some locations
- One in five retail businesses (20%) say they have closed some locations due to staff shortages
These figures can make any business owner feel stressed or overwhelmed. However, it’s important to learn how to find ways to overcome obstacles and challenges. By creating a positive and happy workplace environment, you are more likely to attract job seekers looking for work. You can also provide employees with training opportunities to develop their skills and strengthen your workplace culture.
- Empathy and Kindness
Empathy is a big deal in workplaces these days and for good reason. More and more job seekers are looking for leaders or employers who show empathy and kindness. Who can provide positive and constructive feedback that leaves them room to grow, instead of just barking out orders and leaving the employee to their work? This pandemic means that employees are less likely to stay in a job where they are unhappy.
- Adapting to Remote Work
Remote work is here to stay, and business owners will need to make sure they are more flexible and prioritise the wellbeing of their employees by helping them to maintain a good work-life balance by allowing them to work from home. Working from home can be a good way for your employees to be more productive, have the opportunity to recover from illnesses, a flexible schedule, no office distractions, and no more long commutes to and from work. The pandemic has caused many people to reassess their priorities in both life and work. This has brought about a shift in workplace values, with the focus turning to wellbeing and work/life balance.
- Embrace Digital Technology
The pandemic has accelerated digital technology and the way businesses communicate with employees through technology. Embracing technology doesn’t mean you need to spend hours trawling social media platforms, it simply means that people have seen for themselves how powerful the digital changes in their business can be, so they are changing up their internal processes and continuing to embrace new technologies, streamlining processes and automating online services. Technology can be a valuable asset to your business if you use it right.
Are you a small or medium business? What will you prioritise this year?
By Sonia McDonald
Founder and Managing Director of Leadership HQ and McDonald Inc. Leadership coach, entrepreneur, CEO and author.
Sonia McDonald is changing the face of leadership across the globe. She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, and is known for her mantra ‘Just Lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her transformational coaching, leadership training programs and cultural transformation for organisations and encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped thousands of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
Sonia is a founder and CEO of McDonald Inc., LeadershipHQ and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and the newly launched Courage Conference. For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of leadership and she is beyond committed to her mission around building a world of great leaders.
She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader. She has been recognised by Richtopia as One of the Top 250 Influential Women across the Globe and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is a leading coach, an award-winning published author of newly released First Comes Courage, Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! and has become an in-demand keynote speaker on leadership, kindness and courage.
Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, kindness, empathy and courage as well as building outstanding leadership across the Globe.