Despite the volatility in the euro zone, senior executives in Ireland are optimistic about the country's economy, potential for growth and job creation, according to the second consecutive Executive Expectations study from IIC Partners Dublin-based member firm MERC Partners.
The comprehensive study conducted among 300 senior executives in Ireland earlier this year by Amárach Research covered three broad themes: views of senior executives on the prospects for our economy, what senior executives see as action priorities for Government and senior executives' views on key topical issues.
One of the key findings was that 58% of respondents saw prospects for the Irish economy as more positive than compared to the same time last year.
"While most executives are positive about our economic prospects, this optimism is qualified with concerns about a small number of critical issues including stimulating growth in the economy, promoting job creation, the pace of public sector reform and copper-fastening a deal which reduces the cost of the banking bailout."
The executives highlighted key areas where the Irish Government should focus its priorities.
The headline findings of the study revealed:
- 58% of those who replied said they are slightly or much more positive about Ireland's economic prospects compared to 12 months ago. However, this level of positive outlook is down 11% from the previous year-earlier period;
- This cautious optimism was also reflected in the finding that more respondents, 39%, believe their firms will employ more people next year than those who believe company employment will fall , 26%;
- Four areas dominated executives' views on the most urgent issues to be tackled by Ireland's Government - sealing the bank deal, 23% (Note: this has now been successfully achieved), stimulating growth in the economy, 22%, promoting a climate for job creation,15% and public sector reform at 21%;
- 84% of the respondents were dissatisfied with the pace of public sector reform to date - consistent with 86% last year - and 62% of respondents identified this issue among their three most important issues to be addressed by the Irish Government over the next five years - a higher ranking than any other issue for long term attention. Only 5% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the pace of public sector reform.
Kieran said ERC Partners also gave respondents an opportunity to make suggestions for how job creation could be stimulated.
"We had a strong response to this question and a number of key themes came through. Almost one third of respondents identified cuts to business costs, for example employment costs, PRSI and corporate taxation as the most important priority. One in five saw a greater role for Government investment as the number one issue, while 11% highlighted the availability of credit for attention."
According to Kieran, a strong preference shown for Ireland's Government to cut expenditure rather than raising taxes was also in tune with how many respondents answered the question about what their own organisation, in hindsight, should have done differently in the past four years.
"The most consistent response was regret that their organisation had not made cuts earlier either through staff or company restructuring. Better business planning and more effective/efficient recruitment also featured as actions which should have been taken during the recession."
Commenting on the overall results, Kieran said while a significant number of senior executives remained positive, the change from last year's survey and the comments made suggested an impatience that current policies were taking too long to bear fruit and some more creativity was needed to stimulate growth and job creation along with a faster pace of reform in the public sector.
About MERC Partners
MERC Partners, one of Ireland's leading executive search firms for four decades, specialises in the recruitment, assessment and development of senior business leaders. MERC has placed many key decision makers in positions of influence within some of Ireland's leading public, private, semi-state and not-for-profit organisations. In addition to executive search, MERC's suite of client services includes advertised selection, leadership consulting, interim management, executive coaching and the recruitment of non-executive directors. MERC is the Irish member firm of IIC Partners, a global Top 10 executive search organisation with some 50 offices in 36 countries.
For further information and to download a copy of the study, please visit www.merc.ie