In an April survey, mid-market company executives told us they were cautiously optimistic about the economy. Since then, expectations have gone from modest to minimal. Nevertheless, most executives in this segment continue to believe that their businesses will improve in the coming year.
These are among the findings highlighted in Mid-market perspectives:America's economic engine - competing in uncertain times, a new report based on a recent Deloitte survey.
America's economic engine - competing in uncertain times
The survey results provide compelling insights into what executives are thinking and doing to retain a productive edge for their companies - hiring for specific skills, improving business processes and technology, and using business analytics to target high-value customers.
Four key findings emerged from the research:
- Less low-hanging fruit. Easy growth in revenues and profits is gone. It is unlikely to come from an expanding economy. Expectations for growth have been declining: the later the respondents answered the survey, and the more information they had about unfolding economic developments, the more pessimistic they became.
- Caution on hiring. Executives at mid-market companies talk about hiring in the context of targeted hires to boost productivity. Although a slight majority of companies expect their workforces to be larger in 12 months, the single cost category that companies said they focus on controlling most is labor.
- Tech trumps talent. Seventy percent of the executives surveyed said that productivity has increased since the recession began. For now, improvements in business processes and new technology, rather than hiring, ranked higher for most mid-market companies.
- Where is the tipping point? Seventy percent of the executives surveyed said that productivity has grown; the question is when and if employment will follow.