Inflation and the shortage of talent are the two biggest concerns facing Irish businesses in the coming year, according to a new survey of executives here.
Research by business law firm Mason Hayes & Curran and the Irish Management Institute found that 85% of firms see higher costs as having the greatest impact on their operations in the next 12 months.
However just 40% see inflation as their biggest challenge, while almost 30% expect staffing to be their main headache.
"This highlights a number of challenges that businesses face in the post-Covid environment," said Martin Kelleher, corporate partner at Mason Hayes & Curran on RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
"Clearly what's coming out from this is that increasingly business costs and the battle for talent, both in terms of recruitment and retention, are key issues facing businesses."
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The survey also notes an increase in number of executives who see mergers and acquisitions as a way of dealing with staff shortages.
Almost 40% of respondents said M&A would be a way of sourcing talent in the coming 12-24 months, compared to only 23% a year ago.
"The survey very much highlights that M&A as a way to source talent is certainly increasing," he said.
"When they do acquisitions they are going to get access to better staff and not have to face the challenges in the environment around recruitment."
The main driver continues to be 'opportunity', though, cited by nearly 70% of respondents, while 54% said deals would largely be driven by 'market need'.
Elsewhere, more than 70% of respondents said the increase in corporation tax to 15% would have no material impact, though 20% expected it to impact foreign direct investment here.
"That was surprising from the survey - the majority of the respondents expect it to have no impact," he said. "They seem to be more focused on the challenges of actually doing business in terms of recruitment and increased costs."
Meanwhile nine out of 10 businesses said that remote working had had a positive impact on society, with more than 70% of firms now investing more in their digital channels.