Despite Recession Fears, Qualtrics Research Shows Executives are Optimistic About Their Growth

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Despite concerns about the economy, C-suite executives are more bullish about near-term revenue than they were a year ago, according to new research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM). The vast majority of executives are concerned about inflation or a recession–or the combined effect of both–but still expect to increase their investments in technology and employee retention this year.

Qualtrics asked CEOs and other C-level leaders about their expectations for the next 12 months, managing through a recession, the effects of COVID on their business, and how their plans have changed since July 2021.

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“During downturns, organizations have to focus intensely on what’s most important,” said Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin. “Amid inflation and tough decisions about spending, the best leaders create a competitive advantage in understanding and swiftly acting on the needs, preferences, and interests of their customers and employees.”

Key Insights

Business leaders are concerned about the economy, but optimistic about the future of their own companies

  • 40% of leaders are concerned about stagflation–the combined effect of inflation and a recession–in the next 12 months. An additional 34% are worried about inflation on its own, and 18% are worried about a recession.
  • In spite of these concerns, 83% of executives expect their companies’ revenue to increase over the next 12 months, and 66% expect overall growth for their organizations. In 2021, these numbers were 76% and 59%, respectively.

Executives are making financial decisions for the long-term

  • As organizations continue their digital transformations, 73% of C-suite leaders are planning to increase spending on technology modernization.
  • 72% of executives plan to increase spending on staffing and retaining their workforce, up from 62% in 2021.
  • Leaders are more likely to turn to short-term cost saving measures in case of a recession, such as reducing spending on customer-facing travel (40%), employee perks (40%) and internal travel (36%), rather than reducing hiring plans (4%), downsizing their workforce (23%), or reducing their real estate footprint (24%).

The majority of leaders believe COVID will impact their business into 2023 and beyond

  • 38% say the pandemic fundamentally changed how they do business going forward, compared to 42% last year.
  • 18% believe their business will still be impacted by COVID in 2023.
  • Only 44% of leaders expect the business effects of COVID will be largely over by the end of the year, up slightly from 39% a year ago.
  • When asked about their priorities for this year and beyond, public health was the top priority with 40% of executives identifying it as a 2022 priority, up from 35% in 2021.
  • Methodology
  • This study was fielded in June 2022. Respondents were considered eligible if they are at least 18 years of age, employed full-time and a C-level executive, President or Founder. The total number of respondents was 535. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed.
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