Insight

WA to open up: Operating your business in this new and changing landscape

Kim Hayman
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We finally have a deadline: Western Australia will reopen its borders to the rest of the country – and world – on February 5.
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This is welcome news for many WA businesses, and also businesses looking to the state for its investments. After two years of lockdowns, mask mandates and vaccine roll-outs, COVID-19 continues to have an impact on our economy and the knock-on effect on businesses has been widespread.

A significant challenge for business leaders (the world over, and especially in WA) has been to navigate the people and skills shortage – both globally and domestically. Without answers, until now, as to when migrants, students and those visiting for a working holiday will return, the workforce shortage across the state and country is reaching crisis levels.

We have seen the impact of this skills shortage anecdotally with our clients, but the data also backs it up. The Vacancy Report available on the Australian Government Labour Market Information Portal notes that job advertisements increased 7.8% (or 18,100 job advertisements) in October 2021 to stand at 250,900. This represents the second consecutive month of increasing recruitment activity nationally, as job advertisement levels reach a 13-year high.

It is evident that there is a tremendous amount of pressure on businesses. In WA, we have seen many employees leaving jobs to be with their families in other states or overseas but we are not seeing workers returning to the state. The border restrictions also meant we have not been able to bring in the required skilled personnel to handle the shortage.

Then there are operational challenges faced by many businesses, with growing supply chain disruptions and delays due to a surge in demand. Businesses are having to be more agile managing temporary changes and inventory levels both in the short and long term in response to COVID-19. The global shut down has exposed gaping holes in supply chains to nearly all businesses. For instance, you just need to look at the lead time to buy a new car with one of these delays caused by a shortage of computer chips. We are seeing the disrupted container supply chain and increasing cost of freight impacting our exporters and importers and, thus, consumers. Some businesses fear they will not have enough stock to meet the Christmas demand.

Being ready for this new landscape

We have been working with our clients on their whole-of-business strategies and approach to navigating what has been a disruptive and unstable environment.

How can you best be ready for when the state reopens in 2022?

People

Putting people at the centre of your decision making is key. Many businesses have adapted to remote working capabilities, and the traditional 9-5 model is also being revised. The businesses that will thrive are those that also embrace change culture. The way your business approaches flexibility will impact whether your employee stays with you or not and how to position your business as attractive to future employees.

Reopening

Look to create a reopening plan that will put you in the best possible position for success. In this plan, you need to focus on the safety of your employees and customers. Use our checklist to understand – and respond to – COVID-19’s specific impact on your business, people, and operations.

Financial and operational stability

Never has the importance of robust, tighter forecasting and reliable, real-time budgeting been as crucial as it is now for Australian businesses. You need to take a complete and comprehensive look at all aspects of the business: for instance, a cash-flow forecast; revisit the management of your stock; ensure your key stakeholders are also in a position to support your business. You must ensure you continually review your organisational strategy for the upcoming years.

This is an exciting time for WA businesses as we re-open to the world, but it is also remains a challenging period for many organisations, across all industries, to navigate.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss your business.

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