The 2018 Cornwell Jackson Executive Pulse Survey reveals a highly optimistic group of business owners and executives who are confident in their business strategies while being concerned about internal culture and leadership transitions. Across six major industry segments, leaders believe the U.S. economy is better than 12 months ago while the Texas and Dallas Fort Worth economies are holding steady. To improve business opportunities, respondents cite available skilled labor, technology incentives and next generation business leaders at the top of their wish lists.
To attract and retain talent, companies and organizations are providing traditional benefits like health insurance, retirement funding and additional compensation, but also a wide array of incentives that include flexible schedules, referral compensation, revised dress codes and allowances for religion, as well as cafeteria plans and child care programs. More than 32 percent of leaders noted that millennials within their workforce have influenced acceleration in technology investments. More than 43 percent of leaders agreed that millennials are influencing “rethinking of leadership tracks” at their organizations. For almost 60 percent of respondents, their organizational culture is shifting through the influence of millennials.
With the anticipation of current and future labor shortages, leaders are investing in technology solutions to augment positions that are hard to fill. They are also maintaining close relationships with universities and trade schools to cultivate talent. Once in the door, employees continue to receive education and cross training at more than 32 percent of the companies and organizations surveyed.
At the time of this survey in early 2018, leaders were still taking a wait-and-see approach on the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. While most believe it will have some impact on their businesses, the specifics regarding the tax code and planning were unclear. Although the survey revealed some concern over the Trump administration’s economic policies here and abroad, leaders appear most concerned with domestic issues that range from compensation and reputation management to the need for continuous innovation in their businesses.
According to more than 50 percent of leaders, one of the biggest threats to their business planning is the change in consumer demand tied to an increasing variety of procurement channels for goods and services (e.g. online purchases). As options increase for purchasing, leaders are closely monitoring consumer confidence and service standards. Top traditional concerns include an uncertain tax structure and staffing levels.
Competition will impact the operating metrics of more than 43% of survey respondents.
When it comes to financing, leaders in the survey noted strong cash reserves and little need for new capital. However, they emphasized the importance of strong relationships with their lenders and adequate existing lines of credit — regardless of whether they are using the lines or not. They note that banking flexibility is improving with regard to extension of credit to more companies and organizations.
For the coming year, the biggest operational focus of leaders in this survey vary, but some themes that came through include a focus on internal efficiency followed by growth of their customer base and the management of leadership transitions within the company.
Overall, the priorities for leaders in the Dallas Fort Worth area across industries include how to manage change with a dynamic workforce and the influence of increasing consumer choice and technological innovation.
The 2018 Executive Pulse Survey attracted more than 80 participants across five major industry sectors. The breakdown of executive and professional types is as follows:
About 85% of participants had businesses based directly in the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area, with outlying cities that included Plano, Carollton, Wylie, Irving, Addison and Farmers Branch. The average tenure of participants in their current position averaged about 12 years. Professional certifications varied, but the most common involved a J.D. or CPA licensure.
The average employment of businesses surveyed was about 150 employees. Actual 2017 revenue of participants averaged $21 million. Projected revenue for 2018 was slightly higher at $23 million.
About the Executive Pulse Survey Report
We’re very pleased to publish our first ever Executive Pulse Survey and Report. The survey, which was conducted exclusively in the Dallas Fort Worth area, targets executives in the Construction, Energy, Manufacturing and Distribution, Professional Services, and Real Estate industries.
The Pulse Survey is designed to explore the opinions of DFW-based executives on a wide range of topics and trends that impact how businesses and organizations operate. It is also intended to provide information regarding their peers’ thinking across a variety of industries and topics.
The Survey was developed by our firm in collaboration with our sponsors: Richard P. Slaughter Associates, Comerica Bank, Scheef & Stone, and Insperity. The survey would not have be possible to produce without our sponsor and participant support.
We hope you find the report useful and insightful.