Engineering sector calls for calm over economic gloom

21st February 2013

A poll of 1118 senior UK executives shows that engineering sector managers and leaders are calling for calm in the face of the continued economic gloom

Respondents to a survey, published today by the Chartered Management Institute, argue that the temptation to make knee-jerk responses must be held in check by experience and considered, decisive, action.

The survey shows that just one in four individuals feel secure in their current job in the engineering sector.

However, although half (50 per cent) admit that 'work has become more stressful', indications are that respondents are able to deal with the pressure. For example, 80 per cent in the sector view the downturn as presenting them with 'greater challenges' and one-third (37 per cent) say it has ensured they are 'more focused at work'. Only 30 per cent claim that fears over the economy have caused them to 'lose sleep'.

In a sign that engineering managers have confidence in their ability to deal with the current situation, the study shows that a significant proportion are still keen to take risks (45 per cent) or accept extra work (61per cent). Many are also not prepared to 'sit tight' during the downturn, with 66 per cent suggesting they would be 'tempted to move if the right offer came along'. Perhaps surprisingly, 19 per cent claim to be 'actively looking for a more senior position'.

The research also identifies the top factors currently putting most pressure on the financial performance of UK organisations. Rising energy costs top the list (32 per cent), followed by concerns over employee motivation (29 per cent) and weak demand (27 per cent). However, despite a clear majority (60 per cent) admitting that the current state of the UK economy is having a negative impact on their organisation, 84 per cent are either 'optimistic' or 'very optimistic' about business prospects in the next 12 months.

Asked to justify this positive outlook, it is clear from the research that the sector's managers and leaders believe that a combination of experience, decisive action and long-term planning is the key to business survival:

- Ninety-three per cent in the engineering sector have previous experience of redundancy and 35 per cent have supported friends or family through redundancy. With this in mind, 64 per cent argue that there is now less stigma attached to redundancy than in the 1990s.

- Twenty-four per cent of respondents in the sector say their organisation has already frozen recruitment, with 58 per cent diverting attention to developing the skills of core internal staff. 71 per cent argue that focusing on management and leadership skills will help survive the recession.

- Sixty-four per cent suggest that 'organisations should focus on product innovation and service' to stay afloat in the downturn.

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