CEO Survey: Is talent risk one of the biggest threats to growth?

A recent survey of CEOs by KPMG has found that as a result of Covid-19, CEOs of the world’s most influential companies have identified talent risk as one of the most significant challenges to organisational growth.

For New Zealand CEOs it has become the second greatest perceived threat behind cyber risk.

A media release from KPMG sees this as a seismic shift given that less than eight months ago, and prior to Covid-19, talent risk wasn’t even registering in the top 10 perceived threats.

It is likely that this shift in perception reflects major changes in both demand and supply, it says.

This talent risk was one of five key themes KPMG has identified in a ‘pulse check’ in July and August of global CEOs, including 50 New Zealand CEOs in 11 different industry sectors, to understand how CEOs’ priorities and concerns have evolved during the crisis.

KPMG says it initially conducted a CEO Outlook survey across the globe in January and February, before many key markets were beginning to feel the full impact of the pandemic crisis.

Incoming KPMG chairman Matt Prichard says this latest pulse-check on local and global CEOs clearly shows the challenges all are facing in dealing with the operational, market and financial impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. 

The five key themes in the survey results, show either a clear change caused by dealing with the pandemic or an interesting contrast between New Zealand CEOs and their global peers.

 The other four themes are:

Nearly 80 percent of CEOs surveyed feel a stronger emotional connection to organisational purpose: CEOs have become more purpose driven in the face of Covid-19 and the associated economic crisis, with KPMG’s CEO Outlook pulse-check showing nearly 80 percent of global and New Zealand CEOs surveyed, feel a stronger emotional connection to their organisation’s purpose since the crisis began.

 A digital leap forward: The latest pulse-check reveals that half of the New Zealand CEOs surveyed state that the digitisation of operations and the creation of a next-generation operating model has sharply accelerated. With this rapid pace putting organisations years in advance of where their CEOs expected them to be, many CEOs are showing a high degree of confidence about having taken a leap forward.

 Climate change and a change in focus: Prior to Covid-19, over half of New Zealand CEOs stated that their growth will be determined by the ability to transition to a low-carbon and clean technology economy. Several months later, KPMG’s global CEO Outlook pulse-check shows the number of New Zealand CEOs that perceive environmental and climate risk as the greatest threat to growth has halved. It is, however, still considered a key organisational and individual material risk.

 NZ CEOs confident about supply chains: New Zealand CEOs are much more confident than their Australian or global peers about risk in their supply chains. The pulse-check results indicate that by mid-year, New Zealand CEOs had taken actions in their supply chain processes which justify this confidence. Two thirds of New Zealand CEOs said that the global pandemic has caused them to rethink their global supply chain approach and, while their Australian and global peers rated it as one of their highest risks, it didn’t make the top 10 for New Zealand CEOs.

 KPMG says that CEOs recognise that recovery from the pandemic does not mean a return to ‘normal’ and that we’re experiencing the kind of fundamental shift that requires us as businesses – and iwi and government organisations – to collaborate, to rethink, to reset, and to make the most of this opportunity.

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