CMI, the only chartered professional body for leadership and management, surveyed more than 1,000 managers from across the private, public and charity sectors on their outlook for 2018. The results reveal that optimism for the year ahead is at the lowest level for four years – optimism has steadily fallen from 63% in 2014 to 57% today – as pessimism grips almost one in four (23%) managers and a further one in five (20%) feel ‘ambivalent’ about their organisation’s prospects in 2018. Overall, one in four (26%) of the managers surveyed report a declined sense of job security following the Brexit referendum.
The forecast follows a challenging year, with almost two-thirds (62%) of managers report no growth or decline in their organisation in 2017.
Turning to plans for the year ahead, the Future Forecast survey reveals that businesses are set to become more inward looking in 2018. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of businesses will undergo a restructure in the year ahead, as 75% of managers name controlling costs as their main priority, with driving productivity important to 62% of managers. In contrast, investing to grow the organisation is a priority for only 39%, and less than a quarter (23%) of managers say expanding into international markets is high on their agenda.
In an indication of the challenges ahead, 42% of UK managers say they doubt the ability of senior management to manage change. With ‘developing people’ named as a high priority for only half (52%) of those surveyed, and less than one in five (19%) of managers saying harnessing the Apprenticeship Levy will be a priority, workforces are set to become increasingly stretched at a time when access to fresh talent becomes more restricted. This is in spite of more than three-quarters (78%) of managers struggling with recruiting skilled new talent – jumping to eight in 10 (82%) who report difficulty hiring new leaders.