The UK’s business landscape has always been a fruitful and diverse one, rich in opportunity. But recent years have brought significant, unique, and unprecedented challenges to the nation – and navigating the business landscape in 2023 has become somewhat difficult for investors and business leaders.
The chief challenge that businesses and investors are having to contend with is the rise in inflation and the corresponding hikes to interest rates. In such a dynamic economic environment, it is nothing short of crucial for businesses to adopt proactive risk management practices, both to safeguard their operations and maintain longer-term financial stability. What strategies can business leaders employ to mitigate the unique risks posed by present times?
The UK has been experiencing sustained high levels of inflation for over 18 months, initially brought on by disruption to the international energy market. High wholesale costs, exacerbated by fresh barriers to trade induced by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, rippled into other industries and consumer markets, causing the Bank of England to attempt deflationary measures through rising interest rates.
Rising inflation increases operating costs and reduces profitability for businesses while rising interest rates make borrowing more costly over time. Repayment rates can increase considerably, making cash flow more important than ever.
In the pursuit of cost savings, there are some businesses that may be tempted to cut corners with regard to health and safety in the form of reduced time and spending on training, for example. However, not only is this kind of approach usually illegal, but the risks it poses can lead to significant costs through civil action. By ensuring they remain compliant with health and safety regulations, businesses maintain safe working environments, reducing the likelihood of incidents and mitigating the potential financial and reputational consequences of such incidents. Going above and beyond with regard to health and safety can also boost productivity, through raising trust between staff and management.
Mitigating risk is not something that can be achieved passively – nor is it something that can be achieved reactively. To react means to have endured, which often means the damage is done. Instead, businesses need to adopt a proactive approach that involves identifying potential risks and taking appropriate measures to mitigate them.
One key method to approach this is to conduct risk assessments tailored to specific industry processes, landscapes, or operations. Risk assessments are often thought of as a health and safety measure but can also be extremely useful as a structure for identifying weak points in a department, project or business model – let alone priming a business for future challenges and disruptions.
Turning the drafting of a risk assessment into a wider company culture can also help to fortify it against potential difficulties. Encouraging employees to speak up with their own concerns, whether through a concerted transparency push or an internal whistleblowing system, can be a strong way to build resilience – providing business executives are prepared to listen.