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CEOs say the Great Resignation is their No. 1 concern

January 21, 2022, 1:42 AM UTC

Fortune just ran a new CEO survey, conducted in partnership with Deloitte. We invited the top executive at Fortune 500 companies, Fortune Global 500 companies, and some members of our global Fortune community to participate. 

In total, 175 CEOs across the globe responded to the survey. 

Here’s what these leaders told us. 

The numbers to know 

60%

  • … of CEOs say the business effects of the pandemic will be over for their organization sometime this year. Another 8% say it’s already over, while 32% say it won’t be over for the “foreseeable future.”  

78%

  • … of CEOs say supply chain disruptions are hitting their bottom line/profits. 

91%

  • … of CEOs expect the rate of inflation to slow over the coming 12 months. 

52%

  • … of CEOs say they plan to increase prices over the coming 12 months as a result of supply chain issues. 52% also plan to expand their supply chain ecosystem/add more partners. 

7%

  • … of CEOs say the pandemic is the biggest challenge they face today.

44%

  • … of CEOs say talent/labor issues are the biggest challenge they face today.

Big picture

  • CEOs are still seeing the impact of the pandemic—but their bigger concern is the tight job market. The job market is simply on fire. The jobless rate is back down to 3.9%, and the quit rate is at a record high. That explains why by a 7-to-1 ratio CEOs say talent/labor issues are a bigger issue right now for their organization than the pandemic. 

A few deeper takeaways

1. Tech CEOs are bullish. 

Many of the tech stocks that absolutely boomed during the first year of the pandemic, are now deep in bear markets. Shares of Block (formerly named Square) are down 56% from its all-time high hit in 2021. Amazon is down 19%, while Peter Thiel’s Palantir Technologies has dropped 63%. Shares of Chegg, an edtech company that boomed while colleges were remote, have been chopped a staggering 76%. 

While financial markets are choppy waters for many tech companies, it hasn’t broken the confidence of tech CEOs—with 83% telling us they foresee strong growth for their company over the coming 12 months. They’re by far the most bullish group of CEOs we survey. For comparison only 46% of CEOs in consumer products/retail (both industries hard hit by the supply chain crisis) say they foresee strong growth in 2022. 

2. The Great Resignation has your C-Suite’s attention. 

Not only has the Great Resignation not fizzled out, it’s accelerating: In November, a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs. It’s so bad that the majority of CEOs in every industry we surveyed put it as their top issue.

When it comes to talent/labor issues, companies are getting hit on every front. Retirements are up. Roles are going unfilled. Burnout lingers. And workers are leaving even after getting hefty raises.

To grasp how big of an issue talent is right now, just look closer at the survey data. We asked CEOs to select their top challenge they face right now, and we gave them 23 options to choose from. Here’s the full breakdown on how they responded: Talent/labor (44%), the pandemic (7%), uncertainty (7%), culture (4%), regulatory (4%), supply chain (4%), growth (3%), pace of change (3%), strategic balance (3%), competition (2%), complexity (2%), digital transformation (2%), external environment (2%), politics (2%), resilience (2%), strategy (2%), climate (1%), demand (1%), disruption (1%), inflation (1%), innovation (1%), investors (1%), and time (1%).

Simply put: Talent issues are hands down the biggest concern among CEOs. 

I’d love to know what you think of the newsletter. Email me with feedback at lance.lambert@fortune.com.

Lance Lambert
@NewsLambert

*Methodology: In total, Fortune and Deloitte surveyed 175 CEOs representing more than 15 industries between Jan. 4 and 12, 2022. We surveyed CEOs from the Fortune 500, the Global 500, and the global Fortune community.

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