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In an ongoing hiring frenzy, here’s what employers are having to do

May 5, 2022, 9:17 AM UTC

Good morning.

For all the issues swirling about today’s business world—inflation, higher interest rates, the war in Ukraine, political polarization—it’s still the extraordinary battle for talent and the nature of work in the post-pandemic world that dominate CEO thinking. I had breakfast yesterday with Burton Goldfield, CEO of HR service provider TriNet, who told me that the hiring frenzy is more intense than he’s ever seen:

“What we are seeing is no slowdown in the phenomenal hiring of 2021 as we enter the second quarter. The growth rate is at an all-time highdouble the highest we have seen in the last 30 years, and double what we estimated for this year.”

At lunch time, I moderated a virtual conversation with CEOs on the “work-from-anywhere” world, held in partnership with Salesforce. Some excerpts:

“Flexible work is here, whether we want it or not. It’s not our choice.  It’s really the choice of our employees.”
—Bret Taylor, co-CEO, Salesforce

“The dislocation of the workforce that we’ve seen in the U.S. with all of its various anomaliesbe it the highest wage inflation of any country globally, the highest shift between various industries, the greatest difficulty in bringing people backthese are reasonably uniquely related to the U.S. But in various shapes and forms, they’re very similar across the world.”
—Jonas Prising, CEO, ManpowerGroup

“We have a group of sustainable hotels called One Hotels, which is expanding all over the world, and I can tell you definitively that…we have less turnover than the rest of the hotel business. The team members that are coming to work for us do want to work for an organization that focuses on people and planet.”
—Raul Leal, CEO, SH Hotels & Resorts

“We are focused on what this means for our non-desk-job colleagues, at manufacturing sites and things like that. Some of those colleagues want a four-day workweek…Some who are working parents want a nine-to-three shift. They see office workers getting more flexibility, and they want it.”
—Kristin Peck, CEO, Zoetis

“We’ve had two years to figure out how to get things done without an office, and we did it, and we’re still operating. Now that we know how to do it, we’re very unlikely to go back to an execution style that is dependent on physical presence in an office… In terms of building culture and improving collaboration, we see those as challenges to overcome rather than blockers and reasons not to do this.”
—Kyle Vogt, CEO, Cruise

“Be careful with giving people what they want, because 5-10 years later, what they want can actually hamper their careers. If disproportional numbers of people of color and women stay at home…we’re going to see a problem, because you must build relationships. I don’t think we’re weighing that properly.”
—Johnny Taylor, CEO, SHRM

Everything that we know to be certain is going to be proven false within a matter of months… One thing the pandemic has taught all of us, in my opinion, is the need, and hopefully the ability, to listen better and be more humble about things.”
—Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO, SolarWinds

“We just named a director of engagement and we’ve added a position for a director of belongingsenior roles that did not exist pre-pandemic.”
—Karen Kaplan, CEO, Hill Holliday

“Our chief revenue officer convinced me that we absolutely need to do a sales kickoff this year. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to save the money. But he was right. Because we brought all the salespeople together from around the worldmany of these people had never met, and those who knew each other hadn’t seen each other since pre-COVIDand the energy that was released by bringing these people together, and the passion with which they went at kicking off the year, was really extraordinary.”
—Jeff Tarr, CEO, Skillsoft

“It’s important to realize that working remotely has been intense. We introduced the concept of extra days off, where we expect everybody in the company to power down.”
—Ayman Sayed, CEO, BMC Software

“We are gutting our spaces, basically inverting them, and there’ll be a few places where people who want to come in and work every day can stake out a claim, but most of the space will be collaborative meeting space.”
—Doug Winter, CEO, Seismic

More news below. And read Fortune’s take on what the Fed’s big rate hike means to stocks here, and to your investments here.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Omicron severity

A new (and as yet not peer-reviewed) study from the U.S. suggests Omicron is no milder than previous COVID variants, despite earlier research that assumed it was not as severe. The new finding is based on adjustments for demographics, vaccination status, and comorbidities. Reuters

Crypto regulations

California has become the first U.S. state to formally move towards broad cryptocurrency regulations, in tandem with the federal government. Dee Dee Myers, a key adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom: "There are a lot of opportunities…There’s also a lot of unknowns in the industry and so that’s another reason we want to engage early." Fortune

Gates v. Musk

Bill Gates reckons Elon Musk could make Twitter "worse". Gates on Musk's track record building great engineering teams at Tesla and SpaceX: "I kind of doubt that will happen this time, but we should have an open mind and never underestimate Elon." CNBC

Hikvision sanctions

Shares in the Chinese surveillance-camera giant Hikvision plummeted by the maximum-allowable 10% on a report about the Biden administration maybe hitting the firm with more serious sanctions. Concerned about Hikvision's enablement of human rights abuses, the U.S. could impose penalties on companies and governments that deal with the company. TechCrunch

AROUND THE WATERCOOLER

Hidden costs

Employers in Indiana are, with the aid of a local pharmacist, fighting against hidden health care costs. Fortune's Erika Fry reports: "[The] situation, where companies collectively spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually without understanding where the money is going, is a direct result of the way America’s employer-sponsored health care market is structured. And the absurdity cascades down in ways that saddle those companies’ employees with higher costs and leave some unable even to afford coverage." Fortune

U.S. intelligence

The U.S. wants Moscow to know how much it's helping Kyiv. Senior American officials say the country's intelligence has helped Ukraine take out many of the estimated dozen Russian generals who have been killed in the invasion—an extraordinary toll, even before considering that the campaign is little more than two months old. New York Times

Russian oil

Russia would have great difficulty shifting its oil output to other customers if the European Commission's proposal for a phased-in ban on Russian oil (which Hungary and Slovakia are pushing back against) goes through. That's because the proposal would ban any EU-flagged or EU-owned vessel from transporting Russian fossil fuel, and any EU entity from even financing or insuring such ships. Likely result: soaring oil prices around the world. Politico

U.S. v. China

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will reportedly give a speech confirming China's—rather than Russia's—status as the U.S.'s biggest geopolitical rival. Blinken was supposed to give the speech today, but COVID. Wall Street Journal

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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