Employee Retention and Worker Stress Key Challenges for CEOs, Marcum-Hofstra Survey Finds
FEBRUARY 9, 2022 (New York City, NY) – Four out of five middle-market CEOs say that employee retention and stress have become significant problems for their companies, according to the latest CEO survey from Marcum LLP and Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business. The survey was conducted in January.
A large majority (86.0%) of CEOs indicated they are having trouble retaining employees, with 43.2% saying employee retention has become a major concern.
In addition, 85.6% of CEOs recognize an increased level of stress among at least some of their employees, and nearly three-quarters (73.2%) are offering assistance to employees experiencing elevated levels of stress.
Among the ways companies are addressing stress within their workforce are mental health services, including Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and onsite stress-management and mindfulness programs. Companies are offering more flexible work schedules and increasing compensation, as well as offering wellness incentives such as paid gym memberships and onsite game rooms.
While the number of CEOs who indicate their business is impacted by price inflation remained virtually unchanged (68.5%) from the previous survey, those that say they will pass along at least some of those costs to consumers more than doubled: 31.1% vs. 15.4%. The previous Marcum-Hofstra survey was conducted in November.
A majority of CEOs in 11 of 12 industry sectors (all except financial services) indicated inflationary pressures are impacting their business. The percentage of CEOs who said they are factoring inflation into their plans for the next 12 months increased to 71.2% from 69.5%.
“Companies in every industry are being severely challenged to retain workers operating under immense personal pressure, while simultaneously having to address the price pressures of inflation, both in the supply chain and the sales pipeline. Managing for growth in this environment tests CEOs to the limits of their resources and requires them to stretch for entrepreneurial solutions,” said Jeffrey M. Weiner, Marcum’s chairman & chief executive officer.
CEO optimism has essentially leveled off after a substantial improvement in outlook in the last survey.
The percentage of CEOs rating their outlook as “very positive” was virtually unchanged at 8.9%. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most optimistic, 82.3% of CEOs assigned a rating of 5 or higher, as compared to 86.9% in the November 2021 survey. This continued a moderate downward trend from the August 2021 survey when 91.6% of CEOs chose a rating of 5 or higher.
The weighted average of CEO optimism dipped slightly to 6.5, from 6.8 in November.
“What we’re seeing is that mid-market CEOs who may have felt more confident about their ability to weather inflationary and other pressures in November – before the Omicron variant hit – are tempering that optimism and hedging their bets as they begin to realize these pressures may not be as temporary as they’d hoped,” said K.G. Viswanathan, interim dean of the Zarb School.
Business Planning Influences
Economic concerns were again the most-cited influence on business planning, with 54.5% of CEOs identifying it as one of their top three concerns. The second most-cited influence was “availability of talent” (49.0%). “Rising material/operational costs” (43.2%) rounded out the top three.
Planning for Inflation
Survey participants volunteered how their plans for 2022 are being impacted by inflationary concerns. Some highlights include:
- “Budgets have been cut across the board, projects reprioritized, site(s) consolidation/relocation is being explored.”
- “Delaying projects, extending infrastructure contracts, only hiring key positions.”
- “Focus more on product delivery than new product development.”
- “Reducing income projections since we are not passing on all the cost increases to our customers.”
- “We are doing a project to evaluate our pricing model to make sure we are charging the right amount for our products and services.”
- “We are purchasing more equipment now in anticipation of higher prices through next year at least.”
- “We think that we can anticipate inflation and take advantage of and invest more money today to have more money tomorrow.”
About the Survey
The Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey is a periodic gauge of mid-market CEOs’ outlook and their priorities for the next 12 months. The survey polls the leaders of companies with revenues ranging from $5 million to $1 billion-plus.
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.
“The dual challenges addressed in the survey offer students insight into the diverse challenges that CEOs confront as they navigate the volatile business environment,” Forman said. “The recent emergence of employee stress and inflationary pressures as areas of consequence demonstrates the importance of leaders remaining vigilant and adaptable.”
Business leaders from 257 companies participated in the first survey of 2022.
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 www.hofstra.edu/zarb.
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.