Business Leaders Survey 2021

Tuesday 16th November 2021 by James Roach

Headstar’s annual survey reveals biggest threats to business growth in Yorkshire

It’s fair to say that a LOT has changed over the last 16 months. Back in June 2020, when we conducted our first ever Business Leaders survey, it was pretty apparent that the region’s business community was, on the whole, not in a great place. The first lockdown was over, but there didn’t appear to be a huge amount of light at the end of the tunnel, with our survey revealing that 57% of Yorkshire businesses expected to make Covid-19 redundancies, while 87% were braced for a second lockdown.

Fast-forward 16 months to the present day, and things are, in many ways, profoundly different; all Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted and the PM, Boris Johnson, is really rather keen that we all get back to the office and crack on with our daily lives.

But what’s the mood really like amongst Yorkshire’s business community after such a difficult 16 months? And what are the key challenges and opportunities facing their businesses over the next year? Big questions that required straight answers. And let’s face it, if there’s one thing that Yorkshire folk specialise in – and the region’s business leaders are certainly no exception – it’s straight-talking! 

All of this could only mean one thing: it was time for Headstar’s annual Business Leaders survey!

Over September and October 2021, we asked the questions that really matter to the people faced with making the big decisions in SMEs across the region (board directors and business owners). As ever, your answers proved insightful, highlighting the many stark challenges that businesses face, as well as a cautious air of optimism for the months that lie ahead.

What quickly became apparent from the results is that, despite the challenges that the region’s businesses face – and supply chain disruption and recruitment challenges were cited by leaders as the biggest threats to growth over the next 12 months – the majority are investing in future growth, with 73% planning to grow their employee-base over the next six months.

More welcome still was the growing focus businesses are placing on the mental health and wellbeing of employees, with our latest survey finding that many have adopted hybrid and increasingly flexible working practices, as well as offering greater non-monetary benefits to secure, retain and incentivise staff.

So, while the majority of businesses won’t be reaching for the party poppers quite yet – which is just as well as there’s probably of shortage of them anyway – it appears from our survey that things are, on the whole, looking a lot more positive for the region’s businesses than they were 16 months ago.

Thanks to all of the MDs, FDs and other senior business decision makers who took the time to complete our survey – it’s hugely appreciated. You can view all of the key findings from this survey by downloading our easy-to-read, summary report below.

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