Writer: Joey Garrand
2 min read March 2022 — Between fierce demand for C-suite talent and COVID forcing businesses and society to reevaluate norms, the traditional C-suite work environment is getting turned upside down.
“A vast majority of CEOs would like to have their executive team at the headquarters most, if not all, of the time. However, the world doesn’t operate in that mode anymore,” said Alan Kaplan, founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a firm specializing in board advisory, executive search and executive assessment. “We’re seeing companies adapt, particularly within financial services, for high-skill and high-demand roles that aren’t market centered,” he told Invest:.
According to Kaplan, companies need to get more creative in how they attract and retain C-suite employees, especially around lifestyle-centric benefits that are beyond just healthcare. Child care, for instance, has been a significant issue for employees returning to work, with approximately 16,000, or 9%, of childcare providers shutting their doors permanently during the pandemic. Kaplan said the issue is being addressed in some instances through on-site daycares. Another trend is providing “Flex Days,” which are a set number of days where employees can choose to work remotely, whether to stay home with their kids or because they simply don’t want to work at the office that day.
The past two years have been the best for Kaplan Partners from a revenue perspective, with 2022 so far exceeding the pace of 2021, exemplifying the strong demand and competition for C-suite talent. “Talent is the variable for executing your plan and success, and there is an unprecedented demand for talent,” said Kaplan. “I believe that the trend in favor of the employee will not fade away anytime in the near future, allowing the employee to be in charge.”
Of course, more is changing than just the workplace, amenities and benefits. Appearances are also changing. Jeane Vidoni, president and CEO of Penn Community Bank, noted that suits are disappearing and customers don’t want to see them. “We appear less intimidating when we’re not wearing a suit. It’s a different environment and I’m curious to see where it goes,” Vidoni told Invest:.
According to an article by Town & Country, leaders are in agreement that 2022 is the time for a professional wardrobe reset. The pandemic has sparked a reevaluation of what is and isn’t acceptable attire in today’s working landscape. “People have become more confident about dressing themselves in a more comfortable, self-expressive way,” said Katherine Greenberg, vice president of women’s apparel at Neiman Marcus.
The diversity of C-suite teams is also increasing, with the value of having leadership and team members from different backgrounds highly publicized and widely embraced. “When people of color are represented on a business’ board, it showcases their commitment to the values they have espoused and provides role models at the highest levels. Data supports that having diverse perspectives around a board table helps to achieve better decisions. And you can’t have a high-performing organization without a high-performing board,” said Kaplan.
On the flip side, the rapidly evolving nature of today’s economy is putting a lot of pressure on C-level executives from a job-safety perspective. “Seventy-two percent of CEOs are worried about losing their jobs due to increased disruption in their industry, and 94% predict drastic change to their business models during the next three years,” according to a survey by AlixPartners. Simon Freakley, CEO of AlixPartners, stated in a press release that the pandemic has presented businesses and their leaders with the most acute set of disruptors since World War II.