Employee Well-being is Major Priority for Many CEOs

Employee Well-being is Major Priority for Many CEOs

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A new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study revealed a top challenge for many surveyed CEOs over the next few years is managing an "anywhere" workforce. CEOs of outperforming organizations, those who were in the top 20 percent for revenue growth of those surveyed, are prioritizing talent, technology and partnerships to position their companies for success post-COVID-19 pandemic.

IBM's annual study found the majority of CEOs surveyed reported empowering a remote workforce was their top priority during 2020. Half of outperforming company CEOs surveyed said managing a remote "anywhere" workforce is a top leadership challenge over the next few years, compared to 25 percent of underperformers, companies in the bottom 20 percent for revenue growth of those surveyed.

"The COVID-19 pandemic challenged many leaders to focus on what's essential, like their people," said Mark Foster, senior vice president, IBM Services. "Many employees' expectations of their employers have significantly changed. The 'anywhere' workforce can require leaders to provide agile technology, to adopt more empathetic leadership models that prioritize employee well-being and to champion flexible and inclusive cultures."

In addition, 77 percent of outperforming company CEOs surveyed report they plan to prioritize employee well-being even if it affects near-term profitability, compared to 39 percent of underperformers, reflecting that the surveyed leaders of top organizations are heavily focused on their people in this moment.

IBM recommends that leaders consider carefully the longer-term challenge of a hybrid work environment, which can include things like providing employees with digital, cloud-enabled tools for collaboration, preventing employee burnout or sustaining company culture with focus on diversity and inclusion.

The IBV study also revealed that the majority of CEOs surveyed see technological factors among the most important external forces that will affect their business in the next few years, following the massive disruptions of 2020. Across the board, surveyed CEOs said Cloud, AI and IoT were the top technologies that they believe can deliver benefits for their business.

However, outperforming company CEOs surveyed said technology foundations were the top challenge at double the rate of underperformers. They are also more focused on partnerships, according to the IBV study. 63 percent said partnerships have become more important for driving business performance while only about half as many underperformers said the same.

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