Attracting and retaining staff is the top issue for Chief Financial Officers across the country, a new survey by Deloitte shows.

The Europe-wide study gets the views of 1,366 CFOs based in 16 countries, including 75 in Irish businesses across multiple sectors.

33% of the Irish CFOs surveyed said they are feeling more optimistic about the financial prospects of their company, which is up 21% from six months about and on par with 34% across Europe.

Meanwhile 15% of Irish businesses said they view now as a good time to take a risk, up 10% from the last survey in the Autumn.

Today's report states that some of this optimism could be driven by the expectation by Irish finance leaders that the inflation rate will decline from 8.4% in the Autumn survey to 6.37% in Ireland over the next 12 months.

This is slightly higher than the anticipated rate of 6% for the Euro-area.

Meanwhile, 57% of Irish CFOs said they expect revenues will increase in the next 12 months, compared to 64% across the Euro area.

Similarly, 33% of Irish CFOs expect their operating margins to rise somewhat or significantly, which is lower than Europe’s 42%.

"While an uncertain economic future and the cost-of-living crisis has made the past six months challenging for businesses, there are plenty of positive indicators in this survey," said Daniel Gaffney, Partner and CFO Programme Lead.

"The anticipated growth in revenues and operating margins, a drop in the inflation rate, as well as Ireland continuing to offer a skilled workforce, are all strong reasons for an optimistic outlook," he added.

Over 40% of Irish CFOs expect to 'increase significantly' or ‘increase somewhat’ employee numbers, which is higher than Europe’s 35% and a 22% increase in Irish CFOs from the last survey six months ago.

Meanwhile, 41% of Irish finance leaders highlighted climate change as being a significant risk, but 52% see the lack of in-house reporting capabilities as the top barrier to unlocking their ESG reporting strategy.

"Consistent with the idea that what we can't measure, we can’t improve, ESG reporting is one of the most important tasks facing organisations," said Orla Dunbar, Sustainability Data & Technology Lead.

"It’s clear that a skilled workforce is one of the critical steps in enabling ESG reporting so it’s vital that businesses foster an environment of continual learning and focus on hiring the right talent," she added.