Despite some very conspicuous burning of the midnight oil in Washington, the Administration's efforts to restore order to the credit markets and take sundry other steps to shore up the economy have left CFOs anything but dazzled. Last month, we surveyed more than 300 senior finance executives on a range of current business concerns and found that:
• When asked to grade a variety of government actions, a mere 22.5 percent rated efforts to create or preserve jobs as adequate — and that was the highest rated of six programs cited (see chart below). Respondents were split regarding the efficacy of many programs, but on one — efforts to bail out Wall Street and the banks — they were in wide agreement that not enough has been done. At the other end of the spectrum, nearly a third thought that too much has already been done to rescue the automakers, although a higher percentage thought that not enough has been done.
• While 55 percent of the companies that have laid off employees to date agree or strongly agree that the "right" employees have been let go, 34 percent concede that the layoffs have adversely affected production and business activities. But 65 percent believe the workforce reductions have had no impact on customer satisfaction.
• Only 18 percent of companies believe that layoffs have hampered employee productivity, but 51 percent say the cuts have harmed employee morale. Curiously, 10 percent say that layoffs have improved morale. Those companies must have truly let the right employees go.