Confidence is high – but it comes at a price

Business leaders are painting a relatively optimistic outlook for 2022 with almost a third of SME business owners expecting the UK economy will improve or remain the same.

More importantly, more than half expect profitability to improve this year and seven in ten also believe their sales revenue will increase.

This is according to the latest Vistage CEO Confidence Index which also showed that most are investing in technology to reduce the labour burden on their business.

According to the Office of National Statistics, resignations reached record numbers in 2021, with job-to-job moves totalling 979,000 between July and September alone, signalling a significant disruption for businesses facing lower retention levels – often referred to as ‘The Great Resignation’.

The report found that 20 per cent of SMEs saw a higher staff turnover last year, backing the official UK figures. Furthermore, a significant number confirmed that hiring challenges impact their ability to operate the business at full capacity, resulting in a rethink of priorities, such as raising wages, investing in training an retaining remote work policies.

UK SMEs are now well-versed in dealing with pandemic-related disruption, demonstrating creativity and resilience

There were other interesting findings such as the fact that, a year after Brexit came into effect, the ONS found that export levels has declined by 2.1 per cent. But 37 per cent of CEOs said Brexit has had no meaningful impact on their supply chain or customer base.

Almost half said they had increased prices towards the end of last year, and 68 per cent expect them to rise in the next 12 months. And of those planning such hikes, more than 73 per cent will raise their margins by 5 per cent or more.

In the main, they cited higher costs for raw materials and other inputs (55%), increased prices from vendors (61%) and the fact that they needed to offer increased wages (78%).

Geoff Lawrence, Vistage, Managing Director UK and Ireland. “Despite these issues, there is cause for optimism as the economy continues to track upwards and business concerns are ironed out.”

“What the survey tells us is that UK SMEs are now well-versed in dealing with pandemic-related disruption, demonstrating creativity and resilience. This knowledge gives us confidence that the business landscape will continue to trend upwards and improve.

“From our work with our members, we have seen indications that business leaders that invest in their workforce, are willing to innovate and accept guidance from peers are going to be in a prime position to meet the ever-evolving post-pandemic business environment.”

More on the report here

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