A recent Deloitte survey of 2,100 employees and executives from around the world revealed a startling statistic: almost 70% of C-level leaders are seriously considering leaving their jobs to find something that better supports their wellbeing.According to Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, 518 CEOs left their jobs between January and April 2022—the highest number for that time period since the firm started tracking CEO departures in 2002. The Challenger analysis cites fears of inflation and recession and continuing staffing shortages as possible reasons for the increase, but wellbeing looms large for many executives in 2022. Jupiter Fund Management’s departing CEO, Andrew Formica, may have said it best in an interview with Bloomberg: “I just want to go sit at the beach and do nothing.”
Succession planning is essential for companies that want to keep a steady pipeline of leaders onboard. However, with the ongoing market and uncertainty, it may be challenging to keep junior and mid-level leaders on board. Finding and hiring C-level leaders has never been a simple process, and keeping them on for the long term is often more difficult. Where should organizations focus on improving the leadership pipeline?
Here are five key areas of focus to improve your leadership retention and succession planning during times of uncertainty:
While it’s always vital that your top executives have a deep understanding of the marketplace, volatile and uncertain times call for increased focus. Encourage leaders to pay close attention to changes and events in the market to be prepared for potential disruption or opportunity. Leaders who keep one finger on the market's pulse will be better able to jump into vacant roles or adapt their responsibilities to sudden shifts.
In conjunction with specific marketplace awareness, up-and-coming leaders should have a good sense of economic basics and how market events and governmental interventions can affect your business. They should be able to read news of supply shortages or global events and connect those to impacts on your business.
Communication is always important, but as many organizations move to remote and hybrid work models, these skills have even greater significance. Leaders should frequently connect with people across the organization. Whether via videoconferences, e-mail, or face-to-face conversations, they should be able to effectively talk about issues, initiatives, goals, and other items that directly impact their teams and business.
The era of remote and hybrid work has put a sharp focus on how meaningful relationships and connections are to employees at every level. Creating solid connections built on trust, respect, and psychological safety is vital to employee engagement and retention. Leaders must emphasize building strong relationships with their teams, colleagues, and customers.
With so many executives and employees citing their personal wellbeing as a key reason for leaving their positions, it’s vital for organizations to refocus attention on employees' physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing at every level. Leaders need to reinforce the message that wellbeing is important, but most importantly, they must set an example for others. Encourage leaders to make time for exercise, prioritize work-life balance, and take their vacation days. When leaders set the tone for wellbeing, the effect will trickle down to others in the company.
More than ever, companies need whole leaders—those who have strong business acumen, an adaptable nature, and a good sense of how to connect with others and take care of themselves. With a focus on these five key areas, organizations can start improving retention and succession planning now and create a leadership bench that will position their companies for long-term growth.
- Do our leaders regularly promote and exemplify self-care and wellbeing?
- What are our turnover rates for top leaders and those in the leadership pipeline?
- What is one way we can improve executive wellbeing?