Tennessee business leaders’ growing optimism about their own sectors pushed the Tennessee Business Barometer to a new high this month.
The latest online survey from the MTSU Jones College of Business pushed the overall index to a new high of 606 from a previous high of 577 in January. Find the full survey report and previous reports at http://www.mtsu.edu/consumer/reportsbarometer.php.
MTSU marketing professor Tim Graeff, coordinator of the index through the university’s Office of Consumer Research, said the improved outlook resulted from two offsetting trends: while perceptions of the current and future economy have dropped, business leaders are more optimistic about the prospects for their individual businesses/firms.
Meanwhile, business leaders continue to have concerns regarding workforce and employment.
“Although there was a net increase in the percent who expect to increase employment in the next 12 months, a growing number express difficulties finding qualified employees to fill open positions,” Graeff noted. “This dichotomy of trends is concerning as firms who seek to hire new employees increasingly find it difficult to find qualified new employees to fill those positions.”
The current online survey of 54 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted April 5-13 in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The sample of respondents includes business owners, vice presidents, senior managers, and managers/others at firms of various sizes.
The overall index score is totaled from four sub-indices measured in the 17-question survey: current economic situation, future economic expectations, business/firm performance and employment outlook.
Business leaders have become more optimistic about their individual firm’s growth, investments, sales, profitability, and inventories. The percent who said business conditions for their industry are “good” increased to 64 from 57. Further, the percent who said business conditions for their firm/business are “good” rose to 83 from 70.
When it comes to finding employees, the survey showed that firms are more likely to use employee referrals, online job boards, and promoting from within to fill positions than they are to rely on college internship programs or attending university career fairs.
To help retain employees, the majority of firms actively take steps to create and foster positive relationships with employees. This includes developing policies for employee behavior, establishing lines of communication with employees, and offering attractive benefits packages.
However, less than half reported having employee development programs that encourage employees to become advocates for the firm/business. In addition, less than 40 percent offer additional “perks” to improve employee morale and decrease turnover.
The next Tennessee Business Barometer survey is scheduled for July. The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325.
For more information about the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, visit www.mtsu.edu/consumer. For more information about the Tennessee Chamber, visit www.tnchamber.org.
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)