Thursday, November 20, 2008

Executive Focus and You

It’s not much of a surprise, but business leaders are paying less attention to workforce issues and more to confidence and risk management. The Wall Street Journal, reporting on a survey conducted over the summer by the Conference Board, says executives are shifting their priorities away from finding and developing talent, succession planning, diversity and labor relations. As the research group’s CEO Jon Spector puts it: “The people-management issues … have moved off the front burner.” Writes the Journal’s Cari Tuna:

The results are even more striking when compared with a similar Conference Board survey a year ago. Then, executives listed revenue growth, profit growth and finding qualified management talent among their top-five concerns. Bolstering corporate reputation and promoting creativity and innovation were in the top 10 last year but fell in the new survey.

In other heartening news to go with your coffee, the Conference Board says the labor market will continue to sink “well into 2009.” It’s another sign the economy’s going to be pressured next year. Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board, explains:

… demand for goods and services in the U.S. is declining, and businesses are responding by aggressively slashing their payrolls. Unfortunately, it seems this environment will persist for several more quarters and business leaders will continue reducing their workforce.

This isn’t about “the sky is falling” and we should all be paranoid about our jobs going away. Accountants, after all, are still in great demand. At the same time, remember everyone - accounting firms and corporate finance offices includes - are looking for ways to save money, or at least not spend money. Approach your job with that in mind. The phrase “work smarter” is way overused, but nowadays it’s a good piece of advice.

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