CEO Outlook Report: Optimism Returns As Leaders Plan To Increase Headcount In 2023
Despite economic uncertainty and recent layoff announcements, 68% of CEOs plan to increase headcount this year; 54% would cut real estate before staff
NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Greenhouse, the hiring operating system for people-first companies, has released a survey of 300 US-based CEOs showing that the majority remain optimistic about the economy but continue to explore alternative ways to reduce costs. When prioritizing cost-reducing measures across different business areas (wages, benefits, external services, marketing & advertising, etc.), those surveyed ranked real estate as the area most likely to be cut, suggesting that companies are continuing to reevaluate their need for costly commercial rents and large real estate portfolios.
Over three-quarters of respondents (76%) plan to increase or maintain their hiring team headcount in 2023.
"Tightening the belt is a natural and prudent course of action in a volatile economic climate. Some companies will be forced to reduce costs to protect future growth. However, this study shows that CEOs appreciate that their talent is their greatest asset, and they are considering every other course of action before jobs are lost," said Daniel Chait, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenhouse. He added, "This recession is notably different from previous ones because in-demand talent is extremely mobile."
The study, conducted in early January, also showed that few CEOs (10%) anticipate a decrease in headcount, and almost one-fifth of CEOs even predict that their company may be able to increase headcount by as much as 30% this year. The research shows that 81% of CEOs were either very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the economic outlook for the first half of 2023, with that number rising to 84% for the second half of the year. Over three-quarters of respondents (76%) plan to increase or maintain their hiring team headcount in 2023.
In terms of specific job market trend, CEOs expect high wages (49%), job security (47%) and healthcare, vision, and dental benefits (40%) to be the main employee priorities when negotiating new roles this year, with the report indicating that CEOs don't anticipate much change from 2022 in terms of the balance of power. Almost 40% of CEOs still expect candidates to be looking for some level of hybrid or flexible work, and 33% said there will be a continued emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Chait said, "Our internal data at Greenhouse supports the feedback we are seeing from CEOs. The number of jobs and offers has decreased, but candidates are still turning down offers at a rate of 11–12%, showing that they are still in an advantageous negotiating position." He added, "CEOs are still predicting a skills shortage and high employment levels, so the companies that put people first will find it easier to hire."
Additional findings show that the challenging economic environment has the potential to derail or stagnate progress on corporate social responsibility. Climate action and ESG have fallen down the priority list for many CEOs as they cope with ongoing economic challenges. According to the surveyed CEOs, the biggest issues companies face in 2023 are economic turbulence (64%), rising inflation rates (62%) and staff retention (27%), with ESG and climate action ranking comparatively lower.
For access to the full results from the CEO Outlook Report, visit the Greenhouse site here. Learn more about challenges facing CEOs on the Greenhouse blog here.
About the survey
Greenhouse commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct an online survey of 300 US-based CEOs with a minimum of 100 employees. Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error is +/- 5.7 percentage points. This means that, all other things being equal, the same survey would get results within the margin of error 95 times out of 100.
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