As every business leader is aware, the effects of COVID-19 have left companies across the world facing new circumstances and challenges. From falling short of projected income to figuring out how to forecast what will happen in the future, firms are unfortunately having to view 2021 through a very foggy lens.
But even as companies look ahead to the future, those projections may be performed by a smaller group of forecasters on board to help. One area where most companies have most certainly faced issues this year has been in hiring. That's the word from a new study, "The Hanover Research Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report for 2020," which was sponsored by OneStream Software. The report shares the results of the firm's poll, which included responses from 212 North American financial decision makers.
Check out some of the most pressing findings, which may reflect your company's experiences.
Hiring Issues Plague Companies
The impact of COVID-19 was "most acutely felt in hiring," the study noted. About 57 percent of respondents said they have reduced hiring due to financial challenges resulting from the pandemic, while 41 percent have reduced contract/temporary staff and 34 percent started furloughs and layoffs.
Some departments, however, have been identified as integral to companies' operations, and have been optimized rather than reduced. The departments that companies are prioritizing amid the pandemic are as follows.
Departmental Hiring Priorities Over Next 18 Months:
- IT/Cybersecurity: 50% of companies
- Accounting/Finance: 48% of companies
- Marketing/Sales: 37% of companies
- Customer Service: 36% of companies
- Research and Development: 26% of companies
- Production: 26% of companies
- Human Resource Management: 20% of companies
Likewise, when asked where companies are making upskilling or training investments, IT and Cybersecurity also ranked at the top of the list, followed by Accounting and Finance.
The IT/Cybersecurity focus is partly due to a massive increase in the number of remote employees that companies have on staff, the report noted. This requires new technological equipment, as well as training events to ensure that everyone knows how to use the tools.
Expenses Expected to Decrease
Looking ahead to 2021, about 45 percent of the companies polled say they expect their day-to-day expenses to fall next year. But not all of the business leaders who responded to the survey said they foresee an overall negative landscape in the future.
When asked about their outlooks in terms of the economic and regulatory landscape for next year, the finance leaders polled responded as follows:
- Somewhat pessimistic: 25% of respondents
- Somewhat optimistic: 25% of respondents
- Uncertain: 19% of respondents
- Very optimistic: 18% of respondents
- Very pessimistic: 13% of respondents.
These results demonstrate the fact that many finance leaders are having trouble seeing into the future. For an industry very dependent on forecasting, these professionals are having trouble getting a read on how things will play out due to the unpredictable nature of the virus. However, many are using predictive analytics tools to help make that easier.
Currently, about 61 percent of the companies polled say they use these platforms at least occasionally, with the most common reasons being planning, forecasting, reporting and analysis.