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January 20, 2022

3 challenges CEOs will face in 2022, according to the Wall Street Journal

Daily Briefing

    Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Emily Glazer and Chip Cutter explore three of the biggest challenges CEOs in the health care industry and beyond will face in 2022.

    16 things CEOs need to know in 2022

    3 challenges CEOs face in 2022

    According to Glazer and Cutter, due to the "constant changes" of the past couple of years, many CEOs have stopped speculating over when the pandemic will subside and instead are focusing on operational shifts that will "allow them to better cope with future surprises."

    Nonetheless, there are three challenges that CEOs across the board think will crop up in 2022, Glazer and Cutter report, citing their interviews with more than a dozen business leaders.

    1. Determining the future state of their offices

    The omicron surge complicated plans to return to in-person office settings for many businesses. While some CEOs say they closed company offices for the entire month of January, others have left offices open.

    "We want to get together, but we want to get together safely," said co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff, who leads around 70,000 people. "Trust as the currency of the culture is earned mostly through in-person gatherings, and it's getting to know somebody."

    Overall, CEOs say they expect to see "a small share of their employees to work from the office before the pandemic subsides," Glazer and Cutter write. As a result, many CEOs have redesigned their offices to be better suited to this environment.

    For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. redesigned its offices to be more open and tech enabled. "Our sites don't look anything like they did in 2019," said CEO Antonio Neri.

    Ultimately, however, "CEOs still struggle with enticing employees to work at the office, something many say is important to build and maintain company culture, better collaborate, socialize, and innovate," Glazer and Cutter write. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Conference Board, a private research group, suggested that over half of U.S. CEOs expect at least 40% of their employees to work remotely at least three days a week after the pandemic, compared with just 28% pre-pandemic.

    2. Addressing inflation

    "Inflation climbed to a 39-year high in December, with strong consumer demand colliding with continuing supply challenges," according to Glazer and Cutter.

    As a result, "Input costs across the board are going up, it's industrywide," said Ann Mukherjee, CEO of Pernod Ricard North America. "And, yes, that is the big one getting passed on to consumers."

    And this issue may be new to today's CEOs, Glazer and Cutter report, many of whom have not experienced extended periods of high inflation during their career. "We're learning a new playbook," said Darius Adamczyk, CEO of Honeywell International Inc. "This is a new muscle that a lot of business leaders haven't really had to deal with in a very long time."

    3. Recruiting (and retaining) top talent

    Across multiple industries, business leaders agree that one of their toughest challenges will be finding a way to hire—and retain—employees in this era of people changing jobs in large numbers, Glazer and Cutter write.

    For some CEOs, this means placing an emphasis on "re-recruit[ing]" existing employees and monitoring employee satisfaction.

    To weather this tight labor market, Waste Management Inc. CEO James Fish Jr. is hiring more employees overall, while finding ways to entice workers with added benefits like paying college tuition for employees' dependents.

    In addition, many leaders acknowledged the need to keep in touch with their employees. For example, PagerDuty Inc. CEO Jennifer Tejada called each of the company's top 50 leaders individually in December—a gesture that surprised many of them. "I do think personal touch matters," she said.

    Ultimately, "[a]ttracting talent, in my opinion, requires more than good pay," said JBS USA Holdings Inc. CEO Tim Schellpeper. (Glazer/Cutter, Wall Street Journal, 1/15)

    Learn more: 16 things CEOs need to know in 2022


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