ACCA Global Council Member and Wellbeing & Emotional Intelligence Trainer Discover your bounce
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Post-pandemic recovery: Business strategy trends

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As we emerge into the post-pandemic future of accounting, Sharon Critchlow explores how to get the most out of your team through effective business leadership.

18th Oct 2021
ACCA Global Council Member and Wellbeing & Emotional Intelligence Trainer Discover your bounce
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Share this content

Effective business leadership is based on seeing the bigger picture, creating a compelling vision and planning effectively. However, with furlough and Bounce Back Loans a recent memory, it can be hard to consider what else is important as we move from pandemic to recovery. As business owners and trusted advisers, now is the time for a period of reflection and an adjustment from a short term to a longer term view. 

In this article I will cover some of the trends that I have spotted to get you and your business thinking strategically. 

Finite resources

Many years ago I attended an ACCA talk by corporate responsibility specialist Dr Alan Knight. His talk was about finite resources. His theory was based on a growing middle class in Asia wanting the technology and lifestyle enjoyed by the West - he predicted that we would need three planets worth of resources to meet this global demand. Clearly, we don’t have three planets!

Resource and supply chain difficulties may not be a temporary issue, but a factor of finite resources.

While there may be an immediate need for more HGV drivers and other supply chain resources, there is also a need for businesses to consider their supply chains in a different way. ‘Just in time’ may well be replaced by ‘just in case’, and clients will need to source long term finance to adapt.

Business adjusting its behaviours could coincide with more regulation to protect the planet, leading to more questions around how to create value and the impact of your supply chain. This offers advisory opportunities for accountants, but also more questions around our own knowledge in this area. Currently, it is possible for your business to become accredited for your green credentials in many different ways but this is voluntary. Best practice may suggest that you consider where your organisation sits now and what you can do to improve. This is good for the planet but it makes good business sense to be informed and ahead of the curve.

This could also be a differentiator between you and your competition, and the same knowledge can be applied to your clients. 

People first

Around 20% of the UK workforce is now Generation Z. Despite being a generation of digital natives in a recent ACCA survey, 57% say that they are worried about the impact of technology on their job opportunities. The same research has shown that 51% cite personal wellbeing and mental health as a worry and 48% state work-life balance as a key attraction for employment. In addition, 91% expect to update their capabilities to remain employed. 

The jobs market is highly competitive across all sectors and this is expected to continue. The need to attract and keep staff will lead to a culture shift towards a people and wellbeing focus. As accusations of “green washing” are thrown at those businesses who over play their environmental credentials, so it will be for workplace culture where lip service is given to wellbeing. Having a wellbeing policy which is never used or a few mental health first aiders will not attract talent, and neither will it help you to get the most from your team.

A recent discussion amongst senior leaders highlighted that silence is not acceptance. So don’t assume that because nothing has been said, everything is alright. Clear career pathways, two-way open dialogues and improving manager skill sets are just some of the ways that businesses will need to adapt to be sustainable. 

Technology

What is your position on tech? Love it or hate it, we all rely on technology in our work. Having a clear strategy on how it is used in your business is vital. Look at your business through the eyes of a potential buyer. What questions would you have and what could you easily prove?

  • What is your approach to automation and streamlining?
  • How secure is your data, what information strategies and policies do you have in place?
  • How aware are your staff? Can they adapt to new tech? Are they cyber secure?
  • What are your infrastructure plans? On premises, or in the cloud, what is most resilient?
  • How does all of the above help your business comply with the regulations?

Technology isn’t just about automation, although this will undoubtedly continue to grow. This is also about changes in cyber behaviours and data laws. A data breach can be an expensive affair and a PR disaster. Consider where data leakage may occur, particularly with home working. Who do you trust with your client’s data and do you carry out continued due diligence on them?

Most serious cyber breaches are aided by staff members, whether knowingly or not. Now is the time to get up to speed on your cyber risks, consider an audit of your processes and explore ongoing training for your teams. This is also a key risk to be raised with clients.

Data laws may also change with the UK's departure from the EU and cross Europe data sharing issues may well emerge. Watch this space!

Sharon Critchlow will be speaking at our AccountingWEB Live Expo this 1-2 December at the Coventry Building Society Arena. Registration is now open - grab your space now.

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By Hugo Fair
18th Oct 2021 19:09

I don't disagree with most of the content, but that's not surprising as there's nothing new or radical in there.

‘Just in time’ may well be replaced by ‘just in case’ ... and so the cyclical model moves on!
I know some very successful business leaders who take a leaf out of the 'contrarian' approach to investment ... why follow the herd when you get better returns by being 'out of sync'?

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