Under pressure: 78 percent of people feel more pressure from their employer than family when making big decisions

Business executives in the UK are more anxious about big decisions at work than critical decisions at home that impact their family, according to a new study conducted by Oracle NetSuite. 

The new study, Unlocking Growth, which provides insights from more than 1,000 business executives in the UK, France, Germany, UAE, Benelux and the Nordics, found that 92 percent are overwhelmed by data when making decisions. A third of UK executives are putting risk mitigation ahead of potential success to avoid impacting their career, and 23 percent rely on gut feel and intuition to make critical decisions.

“There’s a lot of talk about a changing economic, technological and political backdrop, but when you step back, organisations in the UK have an increasing number of growth opportunities if they can focus their time and resources in the right places,” said Nicky Tozer, VP EMEA, Oracle NetSuite. “To achieve that focus, organisations need to address the decision-making and planning challenges identified in this study so they can use data to adapt to change faster than their competition and unlock new growth opportunities.” 

A Culture of Decision-Making Pressure

Executives across countries and industries are under immense pressure when making critical business decisions and as a result many are putting risk mitigation ahead of potential success.

  • Most UK executives (78 percent) said they experience more pressure when making a big decision at work than in their personal life.
  • Fears about negatively impacting revenue (42 percent), damaging personal reputation (24 percent), losing their job (16 percent), and adversely impacting co-workers (12 percent) are the top four areas UK executives are concerned about.
  • Risk aversion is even higher amongst organisations that define themselves as high-performers – 62 percent admit they actively pursue risk-averse decisions, even in the knowledge their choice may not be as successful. 

An Unhealthy Relationship with Data

Information overload, time pressure and a lack of trust in senior management is strangling the decision-making process and leading executives to default to ‘gut feel’ to inform their decision-making strategy.

  • Almost all (92 percent) of UK executives are overwhelmed by data during the decision-making process. Executives in France (99 percent) reported the biggest issues with data.
  • Time pressure and more complex processes are also making decision-making harder. 27 percent of executives have had less time to focus on critical decisions in the last year and 23 percent note more people have become involved in the process, an issue that was particularly prevalent in the UAE (51 percent).
  • Only 21 percent – falling to 12 percent in the Nordics – of UK business executives noted they trust senior management when seeking decision-making guidance. Colleagues (37 percent) and industry peers (22 percent) were the most trusted.
  • A third of UK executives (33 percent) expect to turn to a robot as a source of support when making critical decisions in the next year – the lowest surveyed. Executives in France (51 percent) were the most likely.
  • UK organisations (73 percent) were most likely to acknowledge they are not making highly data-driven decisions, instead only partially considering data or defaulting to “gut feel”, compared to 60 percent in Germany.

A Positive Outlook for Growth and Message to Senior Management

Executives across countries and industries expect their organisations to grow, but highlighted the need to rethink the planning process to ensure data can be used to adjust business plans and that everyone is working towards a clear plan for success.

  • 56 percent of executives expect their business to grow in the next two years. Executives from the UK were the most positive (63 percent) followed by the United Arab Emirates (57 percent), Germany (56 percent), Nordics (54 percent), Benelux (50 percent) and France (49 percent).
  • Retail industry executives (33 percent) were the most confident that their organisations will exceed growth targets followed by manufacturing (27 percent), distribution (22 percent), and software and technology (29 percent). Executives in professional services (16 percent) and nonprofit organisations (11 percent) had the least confidence.
  • Almost three quarters (73 percent) of executives say their organisation is good at capitalising on new opportunities, but there are serious concerns about the planning process. Only 34 percent say they are proficient at adjusting business plans based on data analysis and a quarter (25 percent) do not think senior management provides a clear plan for success. 

Methodology

For this study, NetSuite partnered with Raconteur to survey 1,050 manager level and above employees. Respondents originated from the UK (300 respondents), France (150 respondents), Germany (150 respondents), United Arab Emirates (150 respondents), Benelux (150 respondents) and Nordics (150 respondents) and represented small and mid-sized organisations from across a range of industries. Participants took part in an online questionnaire and were surveyed in October and November 2019. 

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