11% of global CXOs say their business is at risk of not surviving the COVID-19 crisis

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YPO, the global leadership community of more than 29,000 chief executives in 130 countries, conducted an all-member survey to gain a deeper understanding about the impact COVID-19 has had on both businesses globally and on chief executive perspectives.

The YPO Chief Executive COVID-19 Global Survey was conducted from 15 to 19 April and attracted 3,534 respondents of ages 23-91 from 109 different countries. Roughly half of the survey respondents were from the United States.

Fifty-one percent of chief executives characterize the COVID-19 crisis as a large or severe risk to their business, with 11% saying their business is at risk of not surviving. Industry plays a big role in respondents’ point of view on their businesses survival. Business leaders in the hospitality/restaurant (41%), aerospace/aviation (30%), education (19%), and retail and wholesale sales (19%) are the most likely to say their business is at risk of not surviving.

Chief executives in the U.S. are generally the least pessimistic about what the economic landscape looks like in a year, though the percent anticipating negative impact on each business outcome is still sobering.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of leaders now anticipate continuing negative effects on revenues one year from now. Forty-three percent of chief executives expect revenue to be down more than 20%, compared to their 1 March 2020 levels. 

Employee counts

A quarter of chief executives (25%) expect their total number of employees to be down by more than 20% in a year. Chief executives in the U.S. are also the least likely (22%) to expect their total number of employees to be down more than 20% a year from now, compared to 1 March levels. Chief executives in the Middle East/North Africa, Australia/New Zealand, and Canada are the most likely (35%, 35%, and 32%, respectively) to expect their total number of employees to be down more than 20% a year from now, compared to their 1 March levels.

Total fixed investment

A third of business leaders (35%) expect their total fixed investments to be down by more than 20% a year from now. Chief executives in the U.S. are the least likely (29%) to expect their total fixed investment to be down more than 20% a year from now, compared to 1 March levels. Chief executives in Latin America and the Middle East/North Africa are the most likely (46% and 45%, respectively) to expect their total fixed investment to be down more than 20% a year from now, compared to their 1 March levels.

Phase of business disruption

Most chief executives (62%) feel that their country is in the business continuity phase of business disruption from this crisis. Thirty percent report that their country is still in the immediate response phase. Six percent report their country is in the business revival phase, and only 1% of chief executives report that their country is in the business recovery phase.

Business leaders in North/Southeast Asia are the furthest along in the business disruption cycle and significantly further along than chief executives in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Still, most North/Southeast Asia survey respondents feel they are in the business continuity phase and not the business revival phase.
Across industries, nearly all chief executives report that their country is in the business continuity phase of disruption. Hardest-hit industries like education and hospitality/restaurant businesses are the most likely to report that they are still in the immediate response phase.

What recovery looks like

A U-shaped curve – a sharp recession with a longer recovery – is the expected view of the recovery for the majority of chief executives (61%). Twenty-two percent anticipate the recovery will follow a W-shaped curve – a double-dip recession and recovery. Few (12%) of chief executives foresee a V-shaped recovery, which represents a quick recovery period.

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