Businesses in Adelaide were particularly affected by recent extreme weather events.

24 February 2014 — Recent extreme weather events affected more than a third of small to medium businesses, according to the latest TEC Confidence Index, a quarterly survey measuring the confidence of Australia’s business leaders produced by The Executive Connection.

Nationally, 35 per cent of respondents were affected by the recent extreme weather conditions in Australia. South Australia, which was recently hit by heatwaves followed by severe storms, was the most affected region.

There, 58 per cent of SMEs surveyed reported being impacted by extreme weather, with 37 per cent saying it hit productivity, 20 per cent experiencing power outages and 12 per cent reporting absenteeism.

Businesses weren’t standing idly by, however, with many preparing for further extreme events.

“What is really interesting is that one in four businesses – 24 per cent – is now doing something to prepare for extreme weather events, a further nine per cent plan to do something and eight per cent would like to do something but don’t know what to do,” chief executive of The Executive Connection Nikki Potter said.

“These figures demonstrate the key role that governments and business leaders must take in assisting businesses, big and small, to respond to the current and future challenges posed by climatic conditions.

Those in South Australia and those with a turnover of between $1.5-5 million were the most likely to be looking at risk management strategies for extreme weather events, the survey found.

While those SMEs affected by extreme events were in preparation mode, they were still less optimistic about a number of business indicators, including likelihood of sales revenues increasing over the next 12 months (58 per cent compared with a national average of 68 per cent), increasing profitability (49 per cent compared with 58 per cent overall) and increasing staff numbers (40 per cent compare with 46 per cent overall).

Ms Potter said it was important for SMEs to be provided with help to protect against the negative effects of extreme weather events.

“SMEs are the engine room of our economy and if they are negatively affected, this ripples across the economy.”

Read the full report.