The online survey from Riedel Marketing Group may be accessible to UK residents aged 18 or over. The survey questions are about industry trends and future prospects. This informal survey doesn’t offer any personal identification or security information.
An email with a link to the survey was sent to a range of email addresses obtained from public sources, such as company websites, social media accounts and internet directories. The email text included a link to the survey and a brief description of its purpose. No personal information was requested, and therefore no ethics approval was required.
One hundred and eighty respondents completed the survey, providing market researchers with a diverse range of opinions and experiences. The respondents were from all over the world, with the United Kingdom contributing the largest share (36%). The survey respondents were evenly split between men and women (49% each), and the average age was 43 years. Most (63%) had a high degree of education, and a large number (35%) had an annual household income of between £25,000 and £49,999. Twenty-eight percent of respondents were freelancers or self-employed, while 11% were in full-time education. The most in-demand industries, as perceived by respondents, were Marketing and Management Consultancy, Digital Marketing, and Advertising.
The results of the survey confirmed many of the general findings from previous years, as well as providing some unique insights. The main findings, which are summarised below, suggest that respondents are expecting increased competition, struggling with staff retention and feeling that their productivity is declining.
With regard to increased competition, the results suggest that senior managers in all industries are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of competition within their marketplace. Eighty-three percent of respondents reported that their industry is experiencing an uphill struggle to gain market share, and 70% feel that their margins are under threat. Managers in Marketing and Management Consultancy (71%) and Advertising (67%) reported the highest levels of competition, while 50% of respondents in Digital Marketing felt that they were competing with numerous smaller businesses rather than established rivals.
With regard to staff retention, the results suggest that senior managers are struggling to maintain healthy work-life balance, with many respondents (41%) feeling that their employees are often overworked. Furthermore, 70% of respondents reported that their employees are under a great deal of pressure, while 55% feel that their employees lack job security. In terms of low productivity, 56% of respondents feel that their employees’ output has diminished, as has the productivity of the company as a whole (41%). The respondents in Marketing and Management Consultancy and Advertising are the most likely to feel that their employees’ output has diminished, followed by Digital Marketing and Journalism.
Productivity in relation to the survey results suggests that senior managers are feeling the pressure to perform better and achieve greater results for the same cost. Eighty-one percent of respondents felt that their efficiency is improving, while 69% reported that they are spending more time on each project. However, 56% also feel that they are falling behind, with 23% feeling that they are accomplishing less than they could. Furthermore, 37% said that their workload was increasing, while 29% feel that they are performing the same amount of work. The areas where respondents feel that they are spending more time include: Research (100% increase); Planning and Strategy (78% increase); and Analysis and Presentation (76% increase).
Why Senior Managers Are Striving For More Than Just Budget Cuts
For many years, senior managers have been expected to lead through tough financial times, with many firms cutting costs to make a profit. As we have established, this has led to a range of undesirable effects – from low staff morale and engagement, to an inability to prioritise new projects and grow the business. However, the results of the survey suggest that this behaviour is no longer appropriate, with respondents indicating that they want to see their senior managers taking a more active role in securing the future of the company. Eighty percent of respondents feel that their manager should be looking for ways to grow the business, as opposed to trying to secure short-term cost savings, and 35% feel that they should be using their power to make decisions that will improve efficiency. This suggests that companies need to start looking for new ways of engaging their senior managers – perhaps by rewarding them for growing the business rather than focusing on cutting costs.
In terms of the future of the company, the results suggest that respondents are feeling more uncertain and less confident about the next year than in previous years. Eighty percent feel that their industry is going to change in the next 12 months, while 58% feel that the next year will bring about a continuation of the current status quo. Furthermore, only 29% feel that their industry is likely to improve, whereas 45% feel that it is going to decline in the next year. We could interpret these figures as a sign of uncertainty, particularly as they are more in line with previous years than the current economic climate. Perhaps it is a combination of both – companies are struggling, but they do not know exactly what is causing the problem.
There are a variety of ways in which businesses can engage with their senior managers and reestablish them as strategic thinkers – from incentivising them with large bonuses for delivering profitable growth, to offering them an expanded roles that will give them more decision-making power. As we have seen, many companies are already taking a more proactive approach, with 37% using external advisors and 21% structuring internal cross-functional teams to drive collaboration and innovation.
In the next section, we will discuss some of the key findings in more detail.