So 2022 has started out a little bumpy. Don’t worry, you’re not alone on this roller coaster ride. Anyone who’s running a business of any size can relate to at least some – of perhaps all – of the challenges discovered in KPMG Australia’s newly released Keeping Us Up At Night report.

Just before Christmas 2021, global professional services firm KPMG surveyed a sizeable sample of more than 400 Australian business leaders to ask them about their major concerns for this year and the next three to five years.

Its report distils five key issues that reflect both the uncertainties of living with COVID and the rapid digitisation of the world around us.

We’ve highlighted these issues along with some insights from Toni Jones, Partner in Charge – Industries, KPMG Enterprise (pictured above), on solutions and first steps you can take to address the problems head on.

1. Talent acquisition, retention and re/upskilling

This is the number one area of concern (69 per cent) for business leaders for 2022.

There’s been a lot of talk of the ‘Great resignation’ movement in which people are re-evaluating their careers and working conditions. Flexibility in hours and environment, along with other incentives, are key to attract and retain staff, says Toni.

“The younger generation in particular are taking a more holistic view of organisations,” she tells Kochie’s Business Builders. “As well as wanting motivating, collaborative environments with the right training and technology tools to do their job, they’re also very much looking for businesses that reflect their own values.”

Putting in place policies, processes and training to safeguard employees and your business are imperative. Just think: what can you do to make your business a more attractive proposition to the best talent?

2. Dealing with cyber vulnerability

Cyber attacks, data leaks and other security issues were the second biggest concern, although the figure dropped from 50 per cent in regards to 2022 to 35 per cent within the next three to five years. This suggests that businesses expect cyber vulnerability issues to be somewhat resolved in the near future.

Having basic security in place to stop common threats is essential for all businesses, but you also need to assess what’s relevant to you.

“If you have sensitive data or competitive advantage around some of that data, for example, you may need more sophisticated tracking, monitoring and reporting systems,” says Toni.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, this kind of thing can be expensive so using managed services such as those provided by KPMG to monitor and protect your data can be cost-effective. You get the robust security without having expensive specialist staff on your payroll.

3. The challenges and benefits of employees working remotely

Over the past two years COVID has forced businesses to accept staff working remotely and many people no longer want to commute into the office. This issue is a key concern for 48 per cent of business owners this year.

“It’s tricky because there are some real benefits of bringing people into the office, especially when it comes to team dynamics,” says Toni. “But you need work out why you want people in the office and also consider why some staff want to be there. Is it about them doing their work? Or is it about them needing other people around them for collaboration, learning and energy?”

According to Toni, a combination of hybrid and remote working is inevitable and it’s important to have micro-conversations with your teams on how to make this work for your business, staff and clients.

Interestingly, this particular challenge is in the top five concerns for 2022 but plummets in regards to the next three to five years, with just 10 per cent of survey respondents citing it as an issue, suggesting that business leaders will accept it as par for the course.

4. Digital transformation and what to do next

As well having to adapt quickly to remote working, business owners have also had to modernise their systems and adopt digital strategies without time for in-depth planning.

So it’s no surprise that this is a challenge for the foreseeable future, with 44 per cent of business owners citing it as an issue for 2022 and 48 per cent for the next few years.

It’s important now to focus on creating efficient systems and optimising your data, says Toni. “You need to take stock of what data you have, figure out how to connect it and understand how it can be used for decision-making. This is an important step and may require investment in modernising existing systems.”

KPMG’s data integration services allow you to see what’s happening your business in real time and make smart decisions.

5. Evolving regulatory processes, reporting changes and impacts

The past two years have seen a tsunami of ever-changing rules and regulations overwhelm businesses.

KPMG’s survey found 34 per cent of business leaders were concerned about this issue for 2022, with 30 per cent citing it as a challenge for the next three to five years.

Outsourcing this task is one of the most cost-effective ways you can keep up with, comply with and even benefit from the latest regulations and reporting processes.

South Australian tech firm Fusetec, which makes replicas of human body parts for surgeons to train on, for example, was able to take advantage of R&D tax benefits with the help of KPMG’s Enterprise team.

And REDI.E, an Indigenous community services provider that has both non-profit and for-profit arms, is able to stay compliant with complex regulatory processes by outsourcing this to KPMG.

Read the full Keeping Us Up At Night report here.  

Find out how KPMG can help you stay on top of business challenges (and get a better night’s sleep) by visiting the Enterprise page.

This article is brought to you by Kochie’s Business Builders in association with KPMG Australia.

Image: Toni Jones, KPMG Australia

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The 5 big issues keeping Aussie leaders up at night