July 2023
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TD Magazine

Handle With Care

Friday, June 30, 2023

CEOs are confronting the needs of a dwindling US workforce.

It's not exactly breaking news that the US workforce is in a fragile state. What is news, however, is that the C-suite is worried about it. That's according to the Global Leadership Forecast 2023, which surveyed 1,827 HR professionals and 13,695 leaders from more than 1,500 organizations in more than 50 countries. It reveals that, for the first time in 20 years, talent issues comprise the top three CEO concerns.


CEOs are most worried about attracting and retaining top talent, developing the next generation of leaders, and maintaining an engaged workforce. Those concerns outweigh digital transformation and a global recession—and for good reason. This year, the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage survey found that 77 percent of employers have had difficulty filling positions, representing a 17-year high. Small business owners aren't immune, either: Forty-four percent of small business owners have little to no qualified applicants for open positions, according to an NFIB Research Foundation survey.

The problem stems partly from CEOs still feeling the effects of the Great Resignation, which saw millions of Americans quit their jobs in early 2021 to find a better work-life balance. The exodus hasn't stopped, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, because approximately 50.5 million people quit their jobs in 2022. That record number surpasses 2021, when 47.8 million people resigned.

JOLTS also illustrates, conversely, that employers set a hiring record in 2022, with 76.4 million people finding a new job. Last year also saw the fewest people on record, 16.8 million, facing layoffs.


Workers look for jobs that allow for more flexibility, suggests both the JOLTS data and the Global Leadership Forecast. According to the latter, leaders are 1.3 times more likely to leave if their company doesn't support a flexible work environment. Even worse, workers younger than 35 years old are 2.2 times more likely to leave without the option of flexibility.

CEOs are aware of the fragility that faces contemporary companies. With turnover rates rising, the statistics indicate that a more human-centered approach may help stabilize the workforce.

About the Author

Bobby Lewis is a writer for ATD; [email protected].

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