The latest in a yearly series of surveys on corporate issues from The Ken Blanchard Companies shows that executives and company leaders are somewhat optimistic that the US economy will rebound in 2009.
Following the 2008 slowdown that has crippled economies around the world, over 70% of respondents expect the economy to begin its recovery sometime this year. And only a quarter would continue unabated into 2010.
The 2009 results represent feedback from more than 1,700 executives, line managers, and training and human resource leaders from a range of companies, industries and countries. Since 2003, over 6,700 leaders have participated in this ongoing study.
Participants in the most recent Blanchard survey were asked to describe their organization's overall outlook in regards to the economy, training expenditures, expected cuts and coping strategies. In addition, the survey touched on corporate issues relating to organizational, HR and management challenges. Responses focused on the most important aspects of future corporate growth and employee development, as well as how employees are prepared to deal with these and other hurdles.
Some of the survey's top responses include:
Tactics for Coping in a Down Economy
Invest in Productivity and Performance
• Cut travel costs
• Increase focus on branding and differentiation
• 2009 Top Organizational Challenges
• Competitive pressure
• Growth and expansion
• 2009 Top Management Challenges
• Creating an engaged workforce
• Reducing costs
• Types of Training to be Offered in 2009
• Managerial/supervisory skills
• Customer service skills
With the expectation that the economy will begin to recover within the next year, survey respondents also predict that their corporations will not make drastic cuts to training budgets. Fewer than one in five state that their organization plans to spend significantly less money on training in 2009, as compared to 2008. This desire to maintain an adequate level of training points to the identification of corporate development as a way to ride out the storm of economic turmoil, while also refining and realigning each organization's own learning infrastructure.
While recent news has highlighted the downsizing of well-known companies, the Blanchard survey results show signs that corporations are looking inward to survive current conditions instead of resorting to the old playbook of cuts, cuts and more cuts. Companies seeking to decrease costs along all facets of the organizational structure are not, the survey suggests, primarily targeting personnel and marketing. Only 29% of respondents listed personnel layoffs and cuts as ways their companies plan to cope with the down economy, while marketing cuts came in at 14%. More than 60% plan to invest in productivity and performance-maximizing strategies, while another 46% plan to focus on their corporate branding and differentiation.
The study utilized a multiple-choice question format with the opportunity to provide comments with each question. Respondents were selected randomly from the Blanchard database and participated in an email survey. Participants numbered 164 in 2003, 564 in 2004, 511 in 2005, 805 in 2006, 1,091 in 2007, and 1,802 in 2008. The 2009 findings represent the feedback from 1,730 training and HR managers and leaders.
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