Here’s what CEOs want to see in your talent strategy

Business colleagues planning together in meeting
A recent survey from McKinsey finds CEOs want increased focus on talent, productivity, and reducing spending in 2023.
Getty Images

Good morning!

CEOs suddenly have a lot of thoughts about talent management and HR. The problem: CHROs can’t read their minds. 

So McKinsey surveyed chief executives, asking what trends they believe will greatly impact how they’ll lead in 2023. The responses offer a helpful glimpse into what CEOs really want to see in people leaders’ talent strategies. 

Employee performance, renegotiating working methods, and reducing operating expenses all topped the CEO talent priorities in McKinsey’s latest CEO Excellence Survey. Here are the highlights:

Surveyed CEOs say they’d like to refocus attention on employee performance. Call it compassion fatigue, but chief executives are eager to move beyond helping employees weather the pandemic and are ready to settle into the “new normal.” They want workers operating at peak productivity, especially as they enter an economic downturn. 

“The best CEOs believe that talented employees are by and large welcoming of such a stance,” write the report’s authors. Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, have perhaps been the most vocal about this shift in focus. Last July, Zuckerberg told employees to expect higher intensity and to prepare to have their performance graded on a steeper curve. Benioff recently told employees that “wellness culture overpowered high-performance culture” during the pandemic. 

Surveyed CEOs also expect employees to spend more time in the office or with clients this year. Many hold firm to the belief that an increased in-office presence better fosters mentorship, community, innovation, and purpose. CEOs like Goldman Sachs’s David Solomon, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, and Twitter’s Elon Musk are emblematic of this stance.

Lastly, and likely unsurprisingly, given the economic climate, CEOs want to reduce operating expenses—be it through headcount reduction or cutting perks and benefits. And despite some cuts, they want to see increased employee productivity.

For HR leaders, this means they’ll again be called to do more with less and must get creative in aligning talent strategy with their CEO’s business objectives.

Amber Burton

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

Last week, I spoke with Glassdoor’s chief people officer about the future of DEI within organizations.

“What is powerful about having somebody who's focused exclusively on diversity is that there's somebody there to make sure that [DEI] is brought up all the time and considered when the muscle isn't built initially. I think there's still a place for that. But ideally, you'll start to have CPOs who don't even necessarily need diversity in their titles but just start to embed it into the work naturally.”

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- Roughly 473,000 people globally have been laid off since October, and the cuts extend far beyond the tech industry. Bloomberg

- Perennially short-staffed hotel chains are offering career growth programs for frontline employees to boost recruitment. Wall Street Journal

- The Swiss government instructed Credit Suisse to halt employee bonus payouts. AP

- Amazon’s hiring process had little HR oversight, with one team recruiting for three times as many jobs for which it was approved. Insider

- Loyal employees are more likely to be assigned additional unpaid work, according to research from Duke University. MarketWatch


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Mental health coverage. Mental health struggles torpedo work productivity, yet convoluted health care plans make it difficult to get help. —Trey Williams

Salary transparency. Job ads with salary ranges are popping up in areas not required by law, indicating they’re becoming a standard hiring practice. —Cora Lewis

Future of recruiting. A LinkedIn report predicts that employees will have the upper hand in the job market for another five years. —Orianna Rosa Royle

Commuting is overrated. Allstate CEO Tom Wilson says the secret sauce to the company’s culture is its flexibility. “Nobody wants to drive to an office to do a Zoom call, and they don’t have to.” —Jane Thier

Robot replacement. The jobs most in danger with the rise of A.I. are telemarketers and humanities professors, according to a research paper. —Prarthana Prakash

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet