More than three quarters (77%) of the 170 Oxfordshire-based decision-makers who completed the survey said they were optimistic or cautiously optimistic about the outlook for their business in the second half of this year, with 36% predicting that their business will still be growing in six months’ time, albeit at a slower rate than previously forecast.
However, one in five (21%) said they were concerned about the future.
Asked what their business would look like in six months’ time, one third (34%) said they will have a much greater online presence while 28% said more people would be working from home and 24% said they would have fewer physical premises.
The survey to better understand the HR impact of Covid-19 on Oxfordshire businesses was carried out by Allen Associates in June, just as lockdown restrictions were beginning to ease.
Kate Allen, Managing Director at Allen Associates, explained: “These are testing times for all of us. We know from our conversations with HR professionals and business owners that they would welcome fresh insights and local market intelligence to help them to benchmark their own experiences. This survey set out to do just that by identifying the major HR challenges businesses are grappling with and gauging their outlook for the next six months.
“Our survey showed that overall, Oxfordshire businesses are fairly bullish about the future. The level of confidence and optimism is reassuring although it appears that success may come at a price, with redundancies, pay freezes and pay cuts on the way.”
Almost-two thirds (65%) of those surveyed anticipated having to make redundancies while 58% said they were considering pay freezes and 16% are looking at pay cuts.
At the time of the survey, 50% of businesses had furloughed no staff or very few staff; 21% had furloughed up to one quarter while 11% had furloughed between one quarter and one third.
Commenting on the results, Kate Allen said: “Businesses are doing the best they can to plan for the second half of the year and beyond, but with so much still up in the air and the true, long-term effects of Covid-19 still to play out, the future is far from certain.
“However, having steered Allen Associates through two recessions, I know that having a positive attitude, continually striving to add value to those you do business with, and always trying to do the best for your people, will stand you in good stead.”
You can read our report in full and more insights on the HR impact of Covid-19 on Oxfordshire on our Covid-19 Hub, here.