We recently sought the opinions of 500 of the North West’s leading business figures in order to gauge how they were feeling about the region’s economy, their hopes for their businesses within that, alongside any concerns they may have. We also wanted to understand how firms felt Brexit may affect them, whilst also understanding their views about the initiatives needed from the Government to support the North West economy.
Hope for growth
We asked for business leaders’ opinion on how they felt region’s economy would fare throughout the rest of 2021. It seems most businesses are feeling bullish about our prospects with more than 50% feeling the North West’s economy would recover either strongly or moderately.
We also wanted to know how leaders expected their own businesses to perform for the rest of the year. Again, the sentiment was positive: 96% of respondents expected their firms to grow, with 63% of these expecting their firms to grow significantly.
But we also wanted to hear about the challenges businesses may face and any factors which leaders felt could adversely affect this growth. Three key themes stood out:
- The emergence of new COVID variants
- The general level of uncertainty in the economy
- The spectre of another lockdown as we move into winter
Interestingly though, for us as a recruitment firm, there were also some concerns about the new normal of hybrid working and the challenges it may pose for culture and by extension recruiting and retaining the people. We see the winners here being those firms who work hard to maintain their core culture whilst also offering a high degree of autonomy and flexibility. These businesses will be able to both retain their own talent and also become a ’destination of choice’ for those who feel their current firm have not moved with the times and are re-imposing pre-lockdown working patterns in their workplaces.
We also sought to understand business’s expectations for hiring for 2021. Our survey showed that 68% of leaders who responded expected to hire more people this year than they did in 2020.
A mixed view on Brexit
Whilst COVID has undoubtedly dominated the headlines over the last 18 months, we also wanted to gain some insight into how firms were coping with the effects of Brexit, and in particular, those businesses who trade internationally. North West leaders were split evenly on how well prepared they felt to trade overseas. 50% felt they were well set to continue to trade internationally whilst 50% conceded they were still adapting to the new customs regimes and supply chain issues.
Government support for growth
We asked business leaders about the aspects they felt the Government needed to deliver on in order for the region’s economy to grow. Many cited the continued investment in transport and infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the Transpennine Route Upgrade. Businesses also felt that the sensitive continuation of the various furlough and business support schemes would be important.
Businesses in the North West region, whilst undoubtedly feeling the pain of lockdown, have weathered the storm well and are now preparing their organisations to move forward. Business conditions will however remain challenging, and firms will need adept, flexible and empathetic leaders to be successful in the ‘new normal’. With a longstanding presence in the region and a pedigree of finding hard to reach talent as part of the UK’s premier executive search firm, Berwick Partners are well placed to help North West businesses cope with these challenges.
For more information please contact Alex Richardson.