POST-Pandemic WIG's

C’LEVEL WILDLY IMPORTANT GOALS

C’LEVEL Focus priorities in to People Issues and Sustainability towars 2023-24

People issues loom large, while sustainability becomes a mainstream concern.

People, purpose, prices and productivity emerged in a recent strategical and organizational survey for more than 75 companies in Latin America (Corporate and family business), looking to 2024, reflecting a radical shift in priorities not seen in last decade, but likely to represent enduring change in the mindset of Board, specially on C’Level.

“The last time we saw this type of sharp change in business leaders’ top priorities was in 2008 through 2011, during the financial crisis” Says Theodore Tzanetatos, CEO of a largest food industry in central America.

This survey polled more than 350 top level executives and business owners about their 2022-24 priorities and innovation-related thinking.

Key trends in leadership thinking

Among the top 10 priorities in this year’s survey:

Growth top one andt the most-often cited priority (56%) but has faded this year. Our analysis ties this decline to the impact of supply chain problems as Clevels may not push so hard to drive up demand if they cannot supply.

Innovation-related issues, such as digitalization, e-commerce and cybersecurity, come in second (29%). For CLevels, the pandemic highlighted the value of remote work, e-commerce and other digital mechanisms. They are prepared to maintain their tech focus.

The priority of People issues, such as talent retention, hiring and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), rose substantially for the second year in a row, putting it in a close third place (27%) and significantly ahead of financial issues, such as profitability, cash flow and capital funding, and the corporate initiatives, such as M&A, strategy change and restructuring. 

Environmental issues emerged in ninth place; 7% of respondents cited it as a top-three priority. That may be a relatively small absolute number, but this is the first time the category has ever cracked the top 10 and reflects a very significant increase in interest. (It was in 11th position just three years ago and 17th position five years ago.) Business leaders are now under pressure from customers, investors, regulators and employees to do more on environmental sustainability, and sustainable business is seen as an opportunity to drive business efficiency and revenue growth.

Inflation is a sudden-onset issue for many CLevels, with 72% reporting in 4Q21 that they expect it to be a persistent or long-term concern. At that point, pandemic-induced supply chain shortages and government social expenditure to assist people through lockdowns and furloughs was driving inflation. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting economic sanctions have since exacerbated the situation. Disrupted supplies of commodities from the region, such as oil, gas, grain and neon, will drive up prices in a range of industries, from restaurants to semiconductors.

People issues emerge as a postpandemic focus

The combination of societal trends around DEI and the social attitude effects of the pandemic have led to a set of People issues important enough to warrant a high amount of the CLevel’s attention. Attracting and retaining talent is the main consideration within the People sphere — 21% of senior executives, up from 9% last year, cited it as one of their top-three concerns.

Technology roles could be an important segment in which to test talent development strategies. IT staff and business technologists are some of the hardest employees to recruit and retain. It makes sense to trial and develop your leading-edge talent management ideas with this group first.

Hybrid and remote work is seen as the most significant change

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of employee-related issues to a head. “We asked respondents an open question about people in general and were surprised by the result,”. “We had expected customer-related issues to dominate the thinking, but employees were the focus instead.”

The top response (55%) called out remote and hybrid working, outweighing all others combined. CEOs see employees’ desire for remote and hybrid work as the biggest behavior shift postpandemic, and CLevels main hybrid-work concerns are culture and productivity. 

“We know from our interviews that CLevels are hesitant and concerned about how this new working arrangement will play out in practice,” ; “It may have been a short-term necessity during the pandemic, but some remain reluctant to make it permanent.” 

People concerns rose substantially between the two periods in which the survey was conducted, with resignations considered a significant issue by 48% of respondents in 4Q21, up from 34% in 3Q21. Overall, 49% of CEOs agreed with the statement that “it is very difficult for us to find and hire the kind of people we need in our business.”