What’s the top issue for Australian business leaders in 2023?

Leaders urged to 'look inwards' to address this worrying challenge

What’s the top issue for Australian business leaders in 2023?

Talent has emerged as the biggest challenge worrying employers — both for 2023 and the next three to five years.

That’s according to a KPMG survey that found 77% of 473 senior executives surveyed cite talent as their biggest challenge in 2023, while another 61% said it will be their problem in the next three to five years.

Talent as a challenge include acquiring, retaining, as well as re/upskilling staff to meet a more digitised future, according to the report.

"Finding and keeping good quality staff is vital at the best of times, but with unemployment at its lowest level in over 50 years, the challenge has become greater due to a smaller pool of talent," said KPMG chairman Alison Kitchen.

"While we are advocating for an improvement in Australia's migration system to help address the talent supply, our respondents rightly acknowledge they need to implement actions to keep talented people, and provide a work environment that fosters learning, development and growth."

The other top challenges include “digital transformation & optimisation, and extracting organisational value from it” (46% in 2023 and 43% in the next three to five years) and “dealing with cyber risks (40%, 43%).

Addressing the talent challenge

The KPMG report urged business leaders to better understand the needs and wants of their employees to retain current and attract new staff.

"Building the right level of contingency arrangements into the workforce is also a key consideration here. In addition, there is an increasing divergence between how different generations are viewing work and careers," the report said.

It noted that the younger generation of workers is more inclined to accept roles that are aligned with their purpose and social achievement.

"People now rarely choose to work somewhere just for the salary — rather, flexibility, quality of the team, learning opportunities, type of work, societal contribution, values alignment and experiences are all factors," the report said.

"To attract new and retain existing staff, business leaders need to look inwards and help create a workplace that enables their employees to be well, learn, grow, and develop throughout their working lifetime."

Having "balanced working arrangements somewhere along the flexibility spectrum" is the "ideal outcome" to most businesses, according to the report.

This will allow employees to air how they want to work, what their career path looks like, and what will help them succeed, the report said. It will also push for the upskilling in terms of digital awareness.

"The time has come for a multifaceted understanding of flexibility. Gaining the competitive advantage in attracting new talent means employers embracing the where, when, and how of flexibility," the report said.

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