Since 2018, WSU’s Carson College of Business has surveyed Pacific Northwest (PNW) business leaders and employees to gain insights and a deeper understanding of perceptions surrounding the business climate within the region. Last year, the business community combatted inflation, supply chain, and labor issues, while employees prioritized a desire for higher salaries and better work-life balance. Despite these new and amplified challenges, our report found both business leaders and employees are cautiously optimistic as they look toward the next three years, though less so compared to pre-COVID levels.
The Carson College of Business’ sixth annual Business in the Northwest report—based on a survey of 1,260 respondents in the PNW (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho), including business leaders, employees and Gen Z employees—provides a deeper look at how business leaders and employees’ priorities and perceptions have changed as predictions of a looming recession impact the PNW economy as much, if not more so, than the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our research, we discovered the following key insights:
- BUSINESS HEALTH AND OUTLOOK: Amidst predictions of a recession—combined with the amplified challenges of inflation, supply chain, and labor issues—optimism around the business climate has yet to return to pre-COVID levels. Compared to 2019, nearly five times as many employees and four times as many business leaders feel the PNW business climate has weakened in the last three years. Looking ahead, however, both groups are largely optimistic about the region’s economic future.
- WORKFORCE TURNOVER: Despite a tight labor market, a majority of business leaders feel their current turnover rate is improving or staying the same as pre-pandemic levels while employees report turnover rates at their companies are worsening.
- LESS TIME AT WORK: When it comes to desired benefits, employees and business leaders alike want less time in a traditional work setting, placing four-day or shorter work weeks at the top of their list.
- BENEFITS AND COMPENSATION: As hiring has slowed, there is a disconnect between business leaders and employees on the balance between benefits and compensation. While employees are more likely to see salary increases as the most motivating incentive companies can provide, business leaders—on-trend with pre-COVID results— see other benefits, such as flexible work schedules, as more compelling.
- GEN-Z PERSPECTIVE: Gen Z employees are skeptical about employers’ willingness to invest in their career development over the long term.
This survey was commissioned by WSU’s Carson College of Business and conducted by Edelman Data & Intelligence, a full-service consumer research firm. Fielded between 11/15/2022-12/07/2022, the online questionnaire surveyed 1,260 respondents in the PNW including N=500 PNW business leaders, N=500 PNW employees, and N=203 PNW Gen Z employees with an additional oversample of respondents from eastern and western Washington.
This is the sixth wave of this survey, with previous waves released in 2017, 2018, 2019 (conducted in December 2019, pre-pandemic), 2020 (conducted in June 2020, as a special COVID-19 wave), 2021, and 2022. Note the survey is modified each year, so not all questions are asked in all survey waves.
For expanded findings, we have included interactive, data visualization dashboards that can be broken out by age, gender, state and region. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, please reach out to Eric Hollenbeck, communications manager for research, as additional data is readily available.