Survey: How Business Leaders Are Managing Through COVID-19

By Jason Maynard, SVP Global Field Operations

It’s a tough time for businesses. Leaders are faced with managing critical short-term priorities as they try to ensure their business survives the global pandemic, while also having to determine how they can set their business up for a faster rebound and long-term success.

To learn more about how business leaders are coping and what we can do to help in both the short and long term, our research team at Brainyard surveyed 174 executives and managers from small ($10 million or less), midsize ($11-50 million) and midcap ($51-500 million) companies in North America over the first week of April. Here’s what we found.

Almost Every Business Has Been Impacted

Businesses have been affected, some positively. But returning to normal is still far out.

85 percent of respondents said their businesses have been harmed by the coronavirus outbreak. 53 percent classified the harm as substantial.

The pandemic has created increased demand for some businesses, with 14 percent of businesses bringing on more workers and 20 percent asking for more hours from their existing employees to meet growing demands.

Almost universally, new safety and business policies/practices have been put in place. 93 percent of businesses have worked to educate staff on new safety practices; 95 percent have canceled business travel; and 89 percent have offered remote work to at least some employees.

A New 2020

Business leaders are re-evaluating spending for this year and starting to plan for the road ahead.

Every company is re-evaluating its spending plans for the year. Capital spending will experience the biggest lost with nearly 60 percent planning large (46 percent) or small (13 percent) cuts.

Only 17 percent of executives think they can get through this crisis without some form of financial help. When asked about the sources of financial help, 80 percent noted federal aid, 43 percent noted bank loans and 20 percent are looking for help from state led programs.

Business leaders from companies of different sizes had very different outlooks. A quarter (25 percent) of executives from businesses with less than $10 million in revenue are very confident of success in the coming six months compared to only 8 percent of executives from businesses with revenues in excess of $10 million.

Businesses are prioritizing technology investments. 30 percent of businesses are planning to increase spending on technology, while 31 percent expect investments in technology to remain flat from 2019 levels. In contrast, spending plans varied in other categories including payroll (48 percent), marketing (53 percent), sales (52 percent) and production (43 percent) planning cuts.

While business leaders expect this to be a difficult year for their companies and the economy, there is a sentiment of hope if they can control spending, get access to financial aid and focus on areas that deliver an immediate return.

We all know it’s a long road ahead, but every journey starts with a single step and together we can rebuild and return to growth.