We’re (once again) in uncertain times, and CEOs understandably have a lot on their minds. To shed light on the most common concerns among CEOs, we’ve summarized their top priorities and focal points for the year ahead.
What are the most common concerns among CEOs?
A survey was recently conducted by The Conference Board, and was answered by almost 750 CEOs and nearly 800 other C-Suite executives – mainly spread out across Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the US – to shed light on the matters that are weighing most heavily on business leaders’ minds as we kick off a new year.
Possibility of a recession raises concerns among CEOs
Beginning with external factors, the number one worry is the threat of a possible recession. It’s a reasonable worry to have considering the impact that a recession can have on businesses. An Investopedia article explains what effect an economic downturn typically has. In a nutshell, this includes “a loss of jobs, a decline in real income, a slowdown in industrial production and manufacturing, and a slump in consumer spending, which drives more than two-thirds of the US economy”.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though.
Chief Economist at The Conference Board, Bart van Ark, shares: “The ongoing concerns about recession risk among business leaders reflect the slowing economy of the past year and the uncertainties about the outcome of the trade disputes and other policy concerns. However, given a slightly better outlook for the global economy and an easing of trade tensions, we anticipate that a drumbeat of negative sentiment – which can become a self-fulling prophecy – can be avoided, and that we will see more confidence about business prospects in 2020.”
Economists tend to agree that the likelihood of a recession is not as great a threat as initially thought, but that doesn’t mean that businesses shouldn’t brace themselves for the possibility of one. As it is, leaders who took part in a VitalSmarts survey believe that half of their employees wouldn’t be ready for a recession and don’t have the skills to weather a financial downturn.
Perhaps even more concerning is that of the employees surveyed, 52% believe that their bosses don’t have the skills needed to navigate a recession successfully. According to the VitalSmarts press release, these are: open dialogue, change mastery, productivity, universal accountability, and leadership.
FOR MORE: Are you ready for a potential recession? Here’s how you can future proof your workforce
Other areas of concern among respondents included trade uncertainty, which ranked as the second greatest external worry, followed by more intense competition, global political instability, and a tight labor market. The below image details more info on the concerns among CEOs at a global level, as well as by region.
Retaining top talent tops the list of internal concerns among CEOs
Now looking to the matters within their own businesses, CEOs and C-Suite executives noted their primary concern as attracting and retaining top talent. Again, this hardly comes as a surprise. Retention has long been a concern among business leaders.
As we recently discussed, it’s an employee’s market. This means that, generally speaking, employees have the upper hand in choosing where they want to work, making it all the more challenging for companies to hold on to their top talent. And as we know, attrition is a pricey trend – one that costs US businesses $1 trillion every year.
There are, of course, ways to prevent attrition which include:
- Equipping managers to lead well by hosting open conversations with them, giving them feedback, and making the people-management tools that they need to succeed available to them.
- Encouraging real-time feedback which is more effective and less pressured than annual performance reviews and encourages open channels of communication.
- Providing opportunities to advance by developing a culture of continuous learning and innovation and giving them the opportunity to develop their careers at your organization.
- Creating a happy, productive, inclusive culture where collaboration is encouraged, autonomy is allowed, and innovation is celebrated.
FOR MORE: Causes of a high attrition rate and how to reduce it
Other internal matters that are weighing on CEOs’ minds are creating new business models because of disruptive technologies, creating a more innovative culture, preparing the next generation of leaders, and cost reduction. The following image indicates other internal concerns that CEOs at global and regional level have ranked as noteworthy.
Addressing your HR concerns
What are your concerns for 2020? Engage with us on LinkedIn or talk to us about how we could help you solve your HR challenges with modern HR technology.