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Swiss Managers Survey

The Swiss Managers Survey is an annual survey that takes the pulse of Swiss companies. It examines the current trends and challenges facing Swiss companies and seeks to provide answers to burning questions.

Thanks to a strong network of universities of applied sciences and network partners, the survey covers all parts of the country and is also available in four languages. Its results serve decision-makers in business and politics.

The Swiss Managers Survey builds on the ZHAW Managers Survey, which provided insightful results on current topics, especially for MBA and MAS BA Alumni of the ZHAW School of Management. For example, the first survey focused on the response to the Corona pandemic (2020), then the digitalization push triggered by the pandemic (2021), how to deal with the Russia sanctions (2022), and on geopolitical tensions (2023).

Swiss Managers Survey – 2024

"ESG Ahead"

In 2024 new regulations regarding ESG are coming into effect in Switzerland and the European Union impacting firms. ESG activities encompass measures and strategies that companies implement to promote and integrate environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical governance.

In April and May 2024, the fifth "Swiss Managers Survey" was conducted to gather insights from Swiss companies on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) issues. The study shows that Swiss firms face key challenges in complying with ESG reporting standards.

The importance of ESG activities has increased for many Swiss companies. Nevertheless, the majority of companies are not prepared for a corresponding reporting. Only about 40 percent of Swiss firms will publish an ESG report.  Over the past three years, the importance of environmental, social, and governance issues has increased for managers, with environmental aspects experiencing the most significant growth in significance. Managers recognize the strategic value of ESG data, but its effective use to increase business success requires further development. This is shown by a recent survey of Swiss companies conducted by the ZHAW School of Management and Law.

Website Swiss Managers Survey

Swiss Managers Survey – 2023

“Competitiveness and Uncertainty”

In today’s global business environment, geopolitical tensions and uncertain business environments are becoming increasingly prevalent. Not only the Russian-Ukrainian conflict but also the increasing tensions between China and the USA clearly show that internationally operating companies are facing great challenges.

The Swiss Managers Survey 2023 aims to understand how Swiss companies are adapting to these challenges and what strategies they are implementing to maintain their competitiveness.

A detailed overview of the study results can be found here (PDF 650.2 KB)(PDF 650,2 KB)

ZHAW Managers Survey – 2022

“Competitiveness of Swiss Firms, and Implications of the Ukraine-Russia War”

The third edition of the ZHAW Managers Survey deals with the impact of the Ukraine war on Swiss companies. The Corona pandemic has particularly affected the Swiss service sector, which is slowly recovering. On the other hand, the war in Ukraine is now having a stronger impact on the manufacturing industry in Switzerland. The industry is not only hit harder by the sanctions against Russia, but would also be more affected by a supply stop of Russian energy sources, also because almost one third of all Swiss companies were insufficiently prepared for a supply stop in May. This is surprising because the managers surveyed believed on average that the war in Ukraine would last for more than a year and a half.

We would like to thank all participants of the survey for their support.

You can find all the results in detail here.(PDF 326,7 KB)

ZHAW Managers Survey – 2021

“Corona, Digital Leadership, and Corporate Responsibility”

In this special edition of the ZHAW Managers Survey, we show how the COVID-19 crisis has affected companies in Switzerland. The study is based on over 200 responses to a survey conducted from 12 to 26 April 2021.

Main Study Results

In Switzerland, the peak of the crisis was reached at the end of April 2021. For 26 percent of the companies, the business situation already normalized before May 2021. Compared to the first ZHAW Managers Survey, the (expected) end of the crisis was pushed back by about one year, from December 2020 to January 2022.

The business situation of companies has deteriorated significantly since 2019 due to the corona crisis. In 2021, we saw a clear upward trend, yet the pre-crisis level has not yet been reached.

Digitalization Push and Working From Home

In 2021, the digitalization push was even stronger than expected in the previous year and will continue in the “new normal.” Office workers will continue to work from home, and “working from home” will remain a significant component of the working world. Compared to the 2020 ZHAW Managers Survey, the percentage of people working from home increased again in 2021, and a smaller percentage of people will continue to work from home in the future.

Digital working methods have become well established. There is a clear positive trend compared to the last ZHAW Managers Survey. The business situation of companies was significantly better between 2019 and April 2021 if investments were made in digitalization.

Leadership Quality

No improvement was noted in leadership quality. Leadership quality tended to deteriorate during the crisis, and employees also felt that they were perceived less favorably. However, employee perception and corporate communications are key points for better leadership during the corona crisis. When corporate communications improved during the crisis and the company focused more on digitalization at the same time, the perception of leadership quality improved significantly. Thus, digital communication will be an essential part of the new leadership culture in the new normal.

Corporate Responsibility

Corporate responsibility topics became more significant during the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit less so in a regional context. While the regional workforce has helped companies through the crisis, global suppliers are needed. Companies see corporate responsibility as a holistic concept. Different areas are worked on together.

A detailed overview of the study results can be found here (in German):
ZHAW Managers Survey Corona, digital Leadership und Corporate Responsibility(PDF 968,6 KB(PDF 968,6 KB))

ZHAW Managers Survey – 2020

“Swiss companies in the Corona crisis”

In the first survey from April 7 to 13 2020, we wanted to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Swiss companies and thus contribute to a better understanding of the crisis. With over 200 managers from Swiss companies taking part, the response was very positive. We would like to thank all participants for their valuable inputs.

The Key Findings

The Recession Curve

While the business situation for almost all companies in our survey was good before the COVID-19 crisis, the business climate has now cooled down noticeably. However, the bottom of the crisis has not yet been reached, and this is not expected until mid-July 2020. Thereafter, the economic situation of the companies should slowly recover by the end of the year. In general, it is expected that most companies will manage the crisis rather well, but it is nevertheless expected that at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis more than 12% of the companies will be fighting for their survival.

One main reason for this is the sharp drop in demand, especially from abroad. Until the world market recovers, the crisis will not be over for Switzerland as a leading export nation.

The New Normal

The Swiss Federal Council's current strategy is to "freeze" the economy. This seems to be quite successful, with few Swiss companies responding to the crisis by fundamentally changing their business model or the range of goods and services they offer. However, our study shows that there is a major push towards digitalization. More than 80% of companies responded to the crisis by offering home office to their employees and more than 20% of Swiss companies are increasingly focusing on digitization issues (digital production, marketing, e-commerce, etc.).

This trend will continue after the crisis, but it will face a slight reversion towards previous levels. Although in the digital marketing and home office availability, we expect long-lasting effects. The share of digital marketing after the crisis will be almost 10% higher than before the crisis. The effect will be even stronger with regard to home office. While before the crisis more than 80% of the companies stated that they were doing less than 20% of their work from their home office, this group has declined to less than 20% at present. This extreme situation will experience a significant correction after the end of the lockdown, but the share of companies with less than 20% home office only drops below 50%. Thus, in the future more and more employees are likely to work from home.

A detailed overview of the study results can be found here:
ZHAW Managers Survey COVID-19(PDF 875,9 KB) (German only).

SRF Tagesschau

02 November 2021
Only 20 percent of Covid loans repaid

Most Swiss SMEs that have received a Covid loan are also likely to be able to repay it - this is the result of a survey by SRF.
ZHAW lecturer Benedikt Zoller-Rydzek comments on the results of the ZHAW Managers Survey on Covid-19 in the Tagesschau report of November 2, 2021.

To the report (German)