According to a new report from the
Chartered Management Institute(CMI), while UK’s managers are generally optimistic about economic prospects for the year ahead, controlling costs is set to be bosses’ number one priority in 2014.
The CMI's annual ‘Future Forecast' of more than 270 public sector managers found that budgets for outgoings like employee pay are expected to hold steady, or even face cuts.
"With growth to date largely driven by consumer spending, hopes for a sustainable recovery depend on business investment following suit," said Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the
"Today’s research suggests this isn’t on the cards. Yes, business confidence has had a much-needed boost, but managers remain cautious about finances, especially in the public sector climate.
"This raises a question about how strong economic optimism really is, and if organisations are not investing in developing their teams to build that growth, such optimism could be short-lived.
"The challenge for public sector employers in 2014 will be how to reward and retain staff when pay rises and bolstering teams through recruitment aren’t options.”
Managers in the public sector are slightly more positive about how their organisation will fare in 2014 than they were this time in 2012; 44% are optimistic about their organisation’s prospects for the next year, a 5% increase on last year and 17% up on the year before.
But controlling costs continues to be the highest priority business challenge for more than three quarters of managers when looking ahead to the new year (80%).
And optimism in the public sector still trails behind that of the private sector, with 76% of private sector managers feeling positive about their organisation’s prospects for 2014 (32% higher than the public sector).
Managers also expressed doubts about whether they have the right people in place to achieve anticipated growth.
Just 43% report having the right people in post to achieve their organisation’s objectives and nearly two thirds (62%) have had difficulty recruiting people with the skills and talents they need. Reflecting this finding, employers highlighted managing performance 71% as a high priority, followed by restructuring (56%) and developing people (48%).
Despite 2013 being a more successful year for many organisations compared to the year before – 26% reported growth compared with 19% in last year’s report – the findings suggest the upturn is yet to produce happier, more secure employees, and may not do so in the immediate future.
Managers are more pessimistic than this time last year about staff morale in their organisation in the coming year (from 49% in 2012 to 59% this year).