The business highs and lows of 2016

Here, Simon Dalley takes a look back at the highs and lows of a tumultuous 2016 in the world of business.

2016 has been a tumultuous year for many business owners

2016 has been a tumultuous year for many business owners

The year 2016 may well go down in history as one of the most turbulent years of recent decades; national strikes, ever-changing interest rates, The Great British Bake Off leaving the Beeb, and, of course – Brexit.

But from every challenge, we, of course, can take a lesson – so what can we take from 2016 to see us through the next 12 months and beyond?

Pinch punch: the first month of 2016 reports ‘seismic shifts’

It wasn’t just Britain feeling the pinch in 2016. As HSBC’s net profit for 2015 dropped by 1.2 per cent,impacting the forecast for 2016, the world experienced what the bank’s head honchos called ‘seismic shifts’. And ahead of the EU vote, bosses at more than a third of FTSE 100 companies signed a declaration to throw their weight behind the ‘Stay’ campaign, stating Brexit would threaten investment in the UK. On the plus side, oil prices recovered by 50 per cent over January and February, raising hopes that the world’s worst price rout was finally over.

A bad day for ‘The New Day’

Though Trinity Mirror attempted to bolster a seemingly floundering market, not long after the launch of its new mid-market daily newspaper, ‘The New Day’, the publisher announced it would be closing down its new venture after just two months on the news stands. The experimental national newspaper sold little more than 30,000 copies by the time it was pulled. Sources say the New Day was probably running at a loss of about £1 million annually.

Temperatures rise, as does inflation!

As the holiday season began and summer temperatures rose, so too did the inflation rate, likely down to that all-important EU referendum. As soon as the decision was made to leave, the pound dropped considerably against the US dollar and is still down at levels last seen in the 1980s. However, the FTSE 100 share index of the UK’s 100 biggest companies has since bounced back.

Registered businesses end 2016 on a high

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in 2016. By October, the number of registered businesses in the UK hit a record high of 5.5 million, increasing 23 per cent since 2010 and the amount of businesses employing UK staff also increased for the third year running.

Also in October, reports showed that the number of UK unemployment fell marginally to 1.62 million in the three months previous, holding steady at 4.8 per cent – an 11-year low – and average weekly earnings were boosted by 2.6 per cent.

But as the year drew to a close, the annus horribilis that was 2016 went out in style. Across the pond,the largest number of votes ever cast for a presidential election saw Donald Trump become President-elect, making Brexit seem like a drop in the ocean. And December strikes from Southern Rail, British Airways and the Post Office, plunged Britain into Christmas chaos, threatening to disrupt travel plans and delay cards and parcels.

And over at Amazon, an investigation found that employees were being penalised by taking sick days at the company’s warehouse in Scotland. In an investigation by The Sunday Times, it was found that employees were issued with penalty points for taking time off sick as part of its disciplinary system.

What can we learn from 2016 to take us into the New Year?

So what can we learn from 2016, and what can we expect from 2017? The answer depends on who you choose to listen to. While some forecasters are expecting a ‘mild recession’ for early 2017, others are predicting that the economy will grow faster than expected.

Though 2016 had its lows, there was also good in the world – the tiger population increased, Britishastronaut, Tim Peake was reunited with his family after a six months at the International Space Station andAndy Murray won Wimbledon becoming the first British man to win multiple Wimbledon singles titles since Fred Perry in 1935.

So the main focus for 2017 would be to continue to look forward, learn from what has happened in the past,but don’t spend too long looking back. Staying positive and embracing new and exciting opportunities should be the attitude to take into the New Year – what’s the worst that could happen?

Business tips for 2017

Stay creative. Keeping creativity at the forefront of a business is no new idea, but finding ways to stimulate and explore different ways of being creative should be key. By encouraging employees to take the time out, and by giving them the resources to explore outside of the box for innovative ideas, the productivity of a company can certainly increase.

Give back. Choosing a charity that is relevant to the business can open up a world of potential opportunities. Giving tocharities and having staff volunteer with those charities, can bring employees and other like-minded professionals to the same place for the same purpose. By encouraging other businesses to participate in events and fundraisers, industry contacts can also be expanded by potential networking days.

Set goals. Setting measurable goals and figuring out a plan to achieve those goals is certainly a New Year’s resolution to stick to. By creating a step-by-step action plan for how you will reach your goals, be it increasing turnover,expanding your workforce, or simply managing a happier team, you can certainly aim to reach your goals by this time next year.

Simon Dalley is marketing manager at BrightHR.

Further reading on business planning

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