September 22, 2021

CEOs Upbeat Despite Delta Variant and Hiring Challenges, Finds Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey

CEOs Upbeat Despite Delta Variant and Hiring Challenges, Finds Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey Coronavirus Resource Center

New York City, NY – The economic outlook among mid-market CEOs remains high, even as concerns about the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the availability of qualified job candidates is changing how they will do business over the next 12 months.

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The latest CEO survey from Marcum LLP and Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business found about 92 percent of CEOs rated their outlook of the current business environment as a “5” or higher, a slight uptick from the June 2021 survey (about 90%).

At the same time, 40% of those surveyed said that they have postponed their plans to bring employees back to the workplace due to the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant.

“The relief brought by the re-opened economy has been offset to a large degree by the Delta variant, the continuing labor shortage, and the relentless rise of material costs. CEOs have had to be very entrepreneurial in responding to these challenges but, remarkably, remain optimistic overall. This bodes very well for the future, at least in the near-term. It will be very interesting to see how they adjust to accommodate current economic realities and position their companies for profitability in the future,” said Jeffrey M. Weiner, Marcum’s chairman & chief executive officer.

A majority of those CEOs surveyed (57%) said they’ve experienced difficulty recruiting qualified candidates in recent months and about a quarter – 26 percent – cited the availability of talent as the single most important factor in their business planning for the next year. That supplants economic concerns, which was cited by about 18 percent of CEOS in June as the top issue for business planning.

“This latest survey shows just how challenging and unpredictable this current environment continues to be for mid-market CEOs, as it is for all of us,” said K.G. Viswanathan, interim dean of the Zarb School. “Their optimism about the economy is tempered by the persistent challenges of the pandemic, from short-term risk management to long-term changes in workforce development and recruiting.”

The Marcum-Hofstra survey polled leaders of 252 companies with annual revenues ranging from $5 million to more than $1 billion. A variety of industries were represented, among them construction, financial, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, technology, and government.

Recruiting Challenges

Approximately 23% of CEOs said recruiting challenges have forced them to change their negotiating tactics with potential employees, with most of those saying they are offering higher pay and/or signing bonuses to attract qualified candidates. Here are some of their comments on the issue:

  • We are adjusting salary and offering more vacation time.
  • I’ve had to raise starting pay and benefits, but it’s hurting.
  • In a few cases, we’ve granted permanent remote working arrangements.
  • More remote work, meeting employees in the middle.
  • We offer a bonus if the employee completes six months of training.

COVID-19 and Working from Home

A little more than two-thirds (about 68%) of CEOs reported they are offering employees some kind of permanent remote work arrangement, with 23 percent saying they are allowing staff to work from home full-time.

More than half (53%) said they do not plan to adjust pay for employees who opt to work from home, while 30% said that they do have plans to examine compensation for remote employees.

The nature of the changes in compensation that CEOs cited for remote workers varied widely. Some said they would cut pay, while others said they would boost salaries and cover the costs of setting up home offices. Almost half (49%) said they will consider whether remote employees will need to pay income taxes to the company’s home state, when setting compensation. Still others said they would institute performance-based bonuses for remote workers or adjust pay based on the geographic location of a remote employee.

Here are some of the comments from CEOs who say they are considering adjusting compensation for remote workers:

  • 35% percent increase in pay. Money to set them up with the company level of technology. Separate phone paid for by us for business needs.
  • Lower salary.
  • Less time off as they work from home.
  • We plan on giving bonuses and financial incentives for employees who want to come into the office. But everything else will remain the same for employees who choose to work from home.
  • Childcare provisions so they can have quiet workplaces at home.

The Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey is a periodic gauge of mid-market CEOs’ outlook and their priorities for the next 12 months. It is conducted as part of the Zarb School of Business MBA curriculum, and developed and analyzed by Hofstra MBA students led by Dr. Andrew Forman, associate professor of international business and marketing, in partnership with Marcum.

“Given the unpredictable and rapidly evolving ways that COVID-19 is impacting business decisions, polls like the Marcum-Hofstra survey are not just a teaching tool, but an invaluable historical record of how business leaders are navigating the pandemic,” Forman said.


Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey


About the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University
Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business prepares students to become tomorrow’s global leaders. Located just 25 miles from New York City, Zarb students have access to internships and networking opportunities across every industry. The Zarb School combines entrepreneurial, hands-on learning and research with real-world experience and mentorship in state-of-the-art facilities, including a Behavioral Research in Business Lab, Center for Entrepreneurship, and academic trading room. Our undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting, management and entrepreneurship, marketing and international business, finance, and business analytics are ranked and recognized by US News & World Report. For more information, visit

About Marcum LLP
Marcum LLP is a top-ranked national accounting and advisory firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurial, middle-market companies and high net worth individuals achieve their goals. Marcum’s industry-focused practices offer deep insight and specialized services to privately held and publicly registered companies, and nonprofit and social sector organizations. The Firm also provides a full complement of technology, wealth management, and executive search and staffing services. Headquartered in New York City, Marcum has offices in major business markets across the U.S. and select international locations. #AskMarcum.