While we can’t glimpse into a crystal ball and see what the future holds, the results from CCIQ’s Pulse Survey gets us pretty close. Having measured Queensland business confidence and expectations for over 20 years, CCIQ’s insights can be taken and extrapolated to predict future business outcomes.
The Brisbane Business Hub community recently came together for a highly interactive session on what 2022 means for business, hosted by CCIQ’s Manager of Policy and Advocacy, Cherie Josephson, who was joined by a panel of experts.
Taking the pulse
For over 20 years, the CCIQ Pulse Survey has been one of the best sources of business sentiment in Queensland. It includes a core survey that has remained consistent, providing longitudinal data on how businesses have felt and been impacted over the years, allowing for strong insights and predictions for responses to upcoming events and challenges.
The most recent survey covered the December quarter of 2021 and established where a range of key performance indicators (KPIs) are sitting. The KPIs that measure general business conditions include sales and revenue, operating costs, labour costs, profitability, employment levels and capital expenditure – combined, these make up the Pulse Business Index (PBI).
“The historic high for the PBI is 60, which can be interpreted as high satisfactory to strong,” Josephson said. “Currently, we are sitting at 46.2 – not quite weak, but not in strong territory either.
“It must be noted that these results were likely compounded to some extent by the timing of the Omicron peak.”
In addition to the core survey, CCIQ also attached a ‘hot topic survey’ to gain insights into how businesses are coping with the COVID-19 economic crisis and provided an updated order of major constraints on business growth.
The constraints identified by Queensland businesses included:
- Level of demand/economic activity
- Retaining/recruiting employees
- Political and economic stability
- Direct wage costs
- Insurance premium costs
- Indirect wage cots
- State taxes and government charges
- Complexity of tax compliance
- Federal taxes and government charges
- Transport cost / infrastructure standard
After Cherie discussed the results of the survey, the panellists – Chris Isles, Economic Development Manager of Brisbane City Council; Simon Dell, Co-Founder and CEO of CEMOH; and Stephen Haddad, National Fleet Solutions Manager of Mitsubishi Motors Australia – took the floor to share their perspectives on the business outlook for 2022.
Business growth and goals
The CCIQ survey found Queensland businesses are back to 84.9 per cent operating capacity compared to pre-COVID levels, but nearly half of the businesses surveyed were not feeling confident about reaching their 12 month business goals.
Chris Isles acknowledged there have been difficulties, but said this shouldn’t stop businesses from feeling optimistic about the year ahead.
“Our businesses want to grow and should have confidence in what 2022 will bring,” he said. “While the start of the year hasn’t played out as we expected, we have strong underlying confidence that once we get through this immediate bump there are some really strong opportunities and sentiments in the economy.”
Retaining and recruiting employees
According to CCIQ, recruiting and retaining suitably qualified employees is now considered the second most significant constraint on business.
Staff shortages have stemmed from a pause on international migration, a lack of interstate mobility, and employees isolating due to COVID-19, but Isles again saw cause for optimism.
“In November and December there were 30,000 jobs advertised in the Brisbane job market each month through online platforms, which is more people and businesses looking for staff than we’ve had on record since keeping this data,” he said.
“What we predict is this coming year people will be hiring across the board and will have access to qualified staff. With the borders reopening both internationally and interstate, we will get a flush of new and skilled people looking for work starting to move through.”
Dell agreed, and said the year ahead should bring opportunities for savvy employers.
“We are going to see a lot of overseas skilled travellers coming to Australia looking for work, especially from the UK and Ireland,” he said. “If you’re an employer, you need to consider how you market your business to these future employees to attract them to your company.”
The future of the CBD
The impact of remote work on the CBD has been an ongoing concern, but Dell said he expects workers to start finding their way back to the city soon.
“We will be seeing less people choosing to work from home, as it can make people feel very disjointed,” he said. “A lot of people identify themselves to a degree by the job they do and the people they surround themselves with at work, and often they become friends. It’s a social environment as much as it is a work environment.
“There is going to be a better balance between going to the office and working from home. We still need human connection, and to feel like we’re contributing to something significant.”
Shoring up the supply chain
CCIQ found that two out of five businesses are struggling with supply chain woes. Stephen Haddad said this has been a particular concern for the motor vehicle industry, with no cars being made in Australia and the availability of cars stretched.
“Mitsubishi is looking at strategies to future-proof their business to mitigate supply and demand issues,” he said.
“This is something that can be looked at across industries to avoid the domino effect that limited supply can have on business success.”
The elements for success in 2022
Each panellist had their own take on the game changers for business success in 2022.
Isles pointed to the 2032 Olympics. “Not necessarily the event, but the sentiment,” he explained. “We’ve got a 10 year runway to capitalise on the opportunities for small businesses across Queensland and the time to start making moves is now.”
Simon Dell added that there are “so many ways” for businesses to grow and evolve at the moment, “including opportunities with e-commerce, social media and new product offerings. If you’re unsure where to start, look to business mentors who can sit down with you and run you through some ideas and guidance of where to get started.”
Finally, Haddad said it was all about people. “We’ve learnt that customers appreciate being kept updated and informed,” he said, “so now we need to focus on clear, transparent and honest communication to foster long term and prosperous customer relationships.”