Happy New Year: CEOs Still Worry About Talent Shortage, Recession

Woman Executive

Corporate leaders have begun 2020 with the same concerns that dogged them during 2019. Specifically, they’re worried about a possible recession and the difficulty of recruiting and retaining employees.

How will they face these challenges? By pursuing the same approaches they expounded last year: developing more innovative cultures and new business models.

Corporate leaders still worry about recession, talent shortage. And will attack them like it's 2019. #HR #HRTech #HRTribe Share on X

The Conference Board’s annual survey of some 1,550 CEOs and other C-level executives around the world found that navigating the talent shortage is the top internal priority of corporate leadership, regardless of their company’s location or size. Executives say they’re frustrated by the difficulty of recruiting and hanging onto employees, who continue to benefit from increased demand.

It makes sense, then, that creating more innovative cultures is leadership’s third priority, and developing the next generation of leadership is fourth. (The second is creating new business models because of disruptive technologies.) 

Interesting, but not surprising, is the breakdown in responses regarding equal pay for equal work: For female C-suite executives, the issue ranked sixth. For men, it ranked 15th.

HR Technology’s Supporting Role

Rebecca Lea Ray, the Conference Board’s executive vice president of human capital, said companies need to be more strategic if they’re to meet the challenges of recruiting and retention. By that, she means “knowing not only what qualities and skills to recruit for, but also how to recruit more efficiently and effectively.”

Advanced technology can help, she added, “when used with the proper understanding and safeguards,” a nod to increasingly voiced concerns about privacy and the impact of bias on AI.

Outside of their companies, executives globally were most concerned about the possibility of a recession for the second year in a row. In the U.S., recession fears are now the most worrisome issue. Last year, American business leaders were more preoccupied with cybersecurity.

However, cybersecurity’s still a priority (No. 3, behind trade uncertainty), with more than 70 percent of CEOs globally planning to increase their budgets in the area this year. Exactly what they’ll do with that money isn’t clear: Nearly 40 percent said their organizations lack a clear strategy to deal with the financial and reputational impact of a cyberattack or data breach.

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