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COVID-19

U.S. firms dealing with high CEO turnover

Mitchell Hartman Feb 13, 2020
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Executives are navigating new technologies, new competitors and fallout from the trade war as they scramble for talent in a tight labor market. pxhere
COVID-19

U.S. firms dealing with high CEO turnover

Mitchell Hartman Feb 13, 2020
Executives are navigating new technologies, new competitors and fallout from the trade war as they scramble for talent in a tight labor market. pxhere
HTML EMBED:
COPY

More CEOs are heading for the exits, according to a monthly report on large-, medium- and small-business leadership compiled by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It found 219 U.S. chief executives stepped down from their posts in January, up 37% from the month before, and up 40% from January of last year.

Why is there so much turnover in the C-suite?

“There’s a lot of new technologies, new competitors, and companies are having to retrench, change strategies, and bring in outside talent to help them combat those technologies,” said Andy Challenger with Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

He said when a CEO vacates the top slot — voluntarily or with a push — it’s often an outsider who replaces them.

Turnover is highest in nonprofits and government, where leaders face a volatile election year that could impact their funding and programs.

In every industry, however, CEOs face unexpected threats, like coronavirus.

Joe Galvin at executive advisory firm Vistage says CEOs he works with spent the last two years navigating the U.S.-China trade war. Now coronavirus has become a factor.

“In one case, their factories will be closed until mid-March,” he said. “That’s an emerging flash point.”

Galvin said CEOs face more mundane challenges, like how to hire talent when unemployment is so low, and how to increase sales when economic growth is so slow.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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