Survey: Executives On Edge After Summer Virus Spikes

Survey: Executives On Edge After Summer Virus Spikes

Concern about the COVID-19 pandemic jumped following a series of late-summer spikes around the country according to a new survey from Chicago-based IPA 100 firm Crowe LLP (FY20 net revenue of $983.3 million). Sixty-eight percent of the 349 C-suite respondents surveyed in the last weeks of July expressed high concern about the pandemic – up from just 51% a few weeks earlier – in the Crowe Business Challenges Survey: Part II.

The July 15 to Aug. 1 survey queried respondents on topics including evolving uncertainty and pessimism, the remote-work transition, their organizations’ top concerns and actions taken and how their businesses and the government are navigating ongoing social issues.

In addition to increased concern about the pandemic, respondents grew more pessimistic about the economy in general, with 54% either somewhat or very pessimistic, compared to 49% in the survey’s first phase (in late April and early May). In addition, 43% of respondents in the first report expected COVID-19’s effects on their organization to meaningfully decline by the end of the year; by the second report, however, that optimism has shrunk to only 12% now predicting an organizational recovery in 2020.

Among some of the other findings in Crowe’s latest report:

  • Seventy percent of respondents expect a moderate or severe decrease in their 2020 revenue compared to 2019.
  • In response to the pandemic, 32% of organizations implemented a hiring freeze, 21% adjusted their business models and 21% reduced their staff.
  • Thirty-three percent of respondents rated their organization’s response to climate change/sustainability as excellent or good, while the majority (56%) deemed their organizational response to be OK.
  • Only 13% of respondents rated the government’s response to racial injustice as excellent or good, while 42% ranked the government’s response to the economic recession as excellent or good.
  • Remote work looks like it will stick around for a while, with 93% of organizations having shifted to at least partial work-from-home models, and 72% of respondents saying they were highly or moderately concerned about returning to physical offices.
  • More than half of respondents rated their organization’s responses to both racial injustice and social inequality as excellent or good.

“In July, as some restrictions were loosened and the virus spiked, it became clear how closely the economic recovery is tied to public health,” says Crowe chief marketing officer Ann Lathrop. “Organizational decision-makers were navigating whether or not to open their offices, facilities, schools or universities. They faced very tough and complex decisions balancing the health of their people with financial resiliency. Our data shows that worry, concern and uncertainty remained the norm for executives this summer.”

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