A Happy New Year? Managers are not so sure…

29 December 2015 -


CMI’s annual Future Forecast reveals optimism for the year ahead is the lowest since 2012

Matt Scott

The future may not be looking so bright for British business as we head into 2016, as managers have the gloomiest outlook for their organisations and the economy since 2012 according to the annual Future Forecast from CMI.

Just 60% of the 1,089 managers surveyed enter the New Year in an optimistic frame of mind, the lowest since 2012, and the first year-on-year fall in confidence since the forecast began in 2010.

The survey also found that more than a third of managers (37%) expect to see a reduction in headcount in 2016, on top of the 46% that reported redundancies in 2015.

Furthermore, almost three in 10 firms (29%) enter the New Year having undershot their business targets for 2015, with just 18% managing to exceed expectations. When asked about morale within their organisations, 59% of public sector firms were pessimistic compared with 32% in the charity sector and 26% in the private sector.

Despite their pessimism, the majority of managers reported moderate financial growth in 2015, with just 24% experiencing a decline in performance. Looking ahead to the coming year, the top three priorities for managers are cost control (75%), improving productivity (61%) and managing performance (60%).


Barriers to productivity

The survey found that the top five barriers holding back business productivity are bureaucracy (30%), business culture (27%), outdated technology (22%), stress (21%) and bad management (18%).

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said that to tackle the issue of poor productivity, businesses needed to give their managers the freedom to make the decisions needed to drive a business forward

“The number-one factor affecting productivity is quality of management and leadership,” she said. “Managers can’t work effectively with their hands tied behind their backs. We know that two in five managers don’t feel empowered to take necessary decisions; so it is little surprise that so many firms report they are bloated by bureaucracy.

“Employers must make it their New Year’s resolution to provide them with the skills and autonomy to succeed.”

Francke added: “Never mind sleep-pods or virtual reality in the office, what managers really want for the New Year is for their employers to cut paperwork, improve workplace culture and replace outdated technology.

“As we all limp back to the office after Christmas festivities it is all too easy to fall back into bad habits. Managers and leaders must have the resolve to see necessary changes through if we’re all to prosper into 2016 and beyond.”

New Years Resolutions

The top five New Year’s resolutions managers have for their organisations are: improve management and leadership skills (31%); change the culture (25%); invest in technology (24%); invest in people and skills (24%); and reduce bureaucracy (24%).

Recruitment of the right staff for their teams was seen by managers as a top priority for the year ahead, with 58% believing this to be very important. Improving engagement (47%) and upskilling current employees (46%) were also high on the list of priorities.

This focus on developing existing talent within an organisation will take on even greater importance in 2016, with the survey finding that one in 10 managers are intending to seek new employment unless their situation improves.

Find out more at: www.managers.org.uk/futureforecast

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