More than a third of SMEs surveyed for this quarter’s TEC Confidence Index Survey experienced some impact from the recent extreme weather conditions playing out across the country.

In South Australia (SA), where prolonged heat and significant fire events struck the state, 61% of surveyed SMEs reported the impact of extreme weather. Overall, loss of productivity was the greatest impact reported (17% nationally, 37% in SA) followed by power outages (8%, 20% in SA) and absenteeism (6%, 12% in SA).

“What is really interesting is that one in four businesses (24%) are now doing something to prepare for extreme weather events, a further 9% plan to do something and 8% would like to do something but don’t know what to do,” Nikki Potter, CEO of The Executive Connection 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.

“Of those preparing, respondents in the most affected state, SA, and those in the $1.5m – $5m turnover bracket, were most likely to be examining their business planning and risk management for future extreme weather events when compared to other groups,” she said.

“In all states respondents said the most common effect experienced was a loss of productivity – this tells us something about the impact extreme weather can and does have on the economy overall. The largest affect was felt by those respondents from SA and those in the largest turnover bracket, $100m+, with 58% and 61% respectively,” she said.

According to the survey, the extreme weather conditions had implications for a number of other areas of SME businesses.

Those respondents who were affected were less optimistic about sales revenues increasing over the next 12 months (58%, compared to 68% overall), less likely to expect profitability to increase (49% compared to 58% overall), and less likely to expect an increase in staff numbers (40%, compare to 46% overall).

“We are looking carefully at what we can do to further support and assist our members with these challenges through our existing channels, networks and access to world-class resources,” she said.

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

The TEC Confidence Index is a quarterly survey measuring the confidence of Australia’s top business leaders. The results provide an invaluable insight into the issues being faced by the businesses, confidence about the Australian business climate, and issues affecting different states.

The TEC Confidence Index – 2014 includes 378 responses from CEOs and business owners around the country and was conducted in February 2014.

Through its affiliation with Vistage International Inc., TEC members have access to over 17,000 business leaders and owners in 15 countries across the world.

The TEC Confidence Index and various graphs for reproduction can be accessed here: http://www.tec.com.au/resources/tec-confidence-index/