- Company heads were less optimistic about the economy in the third quarter of 2019, according to the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index. The CEOs' economic outlook dropped 10.3 points from last quarter to a value of 79.2. Although the index reading fell, indicating some slowdown in positivity, the value remains in the economic-growth range, roundtable numbers showed. The index is a survey of CEOs' plans for capital spending, hiring and sales expectations for the next six months.
- Survey results show that company chief's hiring plans dropped 2.6 points to 72.6, a rate that's above the employment sub‑index's historical average of 58.5; capital investment plans decreased 14.7 points to 73.4, which is below the average capital investment rate of 76.7; and sales expectations dropped 13.5 points to 91.6, which is lower than the average of 112.9.
- When asked how U.S. trade policy and foreign nations' backlash have impacted their businesses, almost none of the respondents perceived the impact as positive, the report said. More than half reported a somewhat or very negative impact on sales, and one-third said the impact on hiring was somewhat or very negative. "This quarter's survey shows American businesses now have their foot poised above the brake, and they're tapping the brake periodically," Joshua Bolten, Business Roundtable president & CEO, said in a public statement. "Uncertainty is preventing the full potential of the economy from being unleashed, limiting growth and investment here in the U.S."
Finding quality talent in an employee-driven economy with record-low unemployment is a major pain point for CEOs in 2019. The roundtable's survey results on the CEOs' hiring plans were above the employment sub‑index's historical average, but the trade war and foreign nation's retaliation aren't boding well for businesses' already strained hiring plans. Moreover, a report by The Predictive Index found that four of CEOs' five biggest challenges were related to talent optimization: wages, leadership development, employee accountability and terminating under performers.
A Conference Board report released in early 2019 showed that attracting and retaining talent and anticipation of a recession have CEOs worried. CEOs in the report were also concerned about creating new business models due to emerging technology and more data-privacy regulation.
CEOs aren't the only ones worried, however; HR leaders are struggling to keep up with emerging workplace trends like flexible work, healthcare changes, gig workers, family and eldercare issues and opioid drug addiction. Research shows that finding time to address these issues and coming up with solutions is problematic for time-strapped, often overwhelmed HR professionals.