The road to 2021: what’s the mood of CMI members?

Written by Liz Spratt Tuesday 06 October 2020
A deep-dive into the latest CMI member poll shows several intriguing trends
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Since lockdown began we’ve been regularly taking the temperature of CMI member opinion. These polls have been front-page news in the Financial Times and reported widely across the media.

In our most recent poll* we asked CMI members about their biggest business concerns as we head towards the end of 2020. We also asked specifically about the need to make (and take) salary reductions – and these results were featured prominently in The Times.

The biggest business concerns you’re facing until the end of 2020 were ranked by our membership as follows:

  1. Reduced customer demand
  2. Challenges in continuing to motivate home working staff
  3. Implementing social distancing measures in the workplace
  4. Remotely managing staff who continue home working
  5. Making redundancies
  6. Following social distancing measures in the workplace
  7. Invoices being paid on time by customers
  8. Balancing your budget
  9. The impact of Brexit on customer markets
  10. The impact of Brexit on supply chains

We also asked managers about their bigger economic concern for their organisation:

  • 63% of managers said a second lockdown
  • 27% of managers said no deal at the end of the Brexit transition period
  • 10% of managers did not know

But there are also lots of personal insights and comments you gave us that bring to life the challenges that managers are also facing. These are a fascinating snapshot into the management mood of the country, so here’s my take on the key trends coming through in your feedback:

CMI members have talked about the problems with the government’s Coronavirus testing programme and the impact this causes with managing staff. A particular issue is when employees believe that they have symptoms, are unable to get a test to confirm this, and then decide to self-isolate. This situation is relatively manageable if the individual is able to work from home (albeit there may be knock-on childcare implications), but becomes a serious management challenge if they’ve been going into a workplace.

  • Some CMI members raised concerns about inconsistency in government messaging, especially around whether employees are meant to be returning to the workplace or not. Inconsistency here can be really difficult for managers and businesses to plan effectively, and it’s clear that many CMI members would welcome greater clarity.
  • Of course many organisations have been hit hard by the pandemic. Cineworld is the latest to (temporarily) close its doors. But some sectors such as food and logistics orders are in recruitment mode, as are the many new Covid-inspired businesses that are appearing. This brings big challenges for managers who are having to learn new virtual recruitment processes in real time.
  • Quite a few of you talked about the management challenges of onboarding staff, both to your company and new workers out of school and university. Normally there’d be an on-the-job training aspect to this.This presents a unique challenge in 2020 where managers are having to train staff on the job remotely!
  • Finally, it’s clear that wellbeing, staff motivation and mental health are still huge causes of concern for managers. With new restrictions across the UK, this looks likely to continue. CMI has a number of resources in this area, and I’d point you towards the upcoming Mental Health Day on 10 October.

These learnings are directly from CMI’s Managers Voice member community – do you want an opportunity to have your say? Get in touch with us via email or sign up to the Managers Voice panel to share your best-practice learnings, how you’re managing virtual onboarding, and how you’re boosting morale with your team.

*A total of 932 managers took part in the poll: these were practising managers (employed, self-employed or currently furloughed) in the UK.

Liz Spratt is CMI’s head of research and insight.

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