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Burned-Out Executives Are Likely to Leave When Economy Recovers

A new survey of executive recruiters found that 53% believe executives’ current workloads are unsustainable and that employers will feel significant repercussions because they’ve stretched management leaders too thin for too long.

ExecuNet, an executive network solely for senior-level executives, conducted the survey of 153 executive recruiters. Fifty-seven  percent of the  recruiters’ rated executive workloads very high, and an additional 25% said they’re the highest they’ve ever seen.

“What’s clear and convincing from our research is that employers have been under somewhat unprecedented pressures over the past four years, and it may be their executives who are feeling that most acutely,” said Mark M. Anderson, president and chief economist of ExecuNet. “For this reason, companies should look for ways to retain executives and keep them engaged in the short term while also determining how they can help bring relief to executives who’ve been shouldering too much for too long.”

ExecuNet warns that these are the consequences employers will face if they stretch executives too thin:

1. Unexpected executive departures when the white-collar job market improves

2. Morale problems

3. Loss of productivity among “burned out” executives

4. Key performers will disengage or get mired in operations

5. Difficulty recruiting new executives

 “For the past four years, we’ve seen companies push productivity gains and cost controls to near their limits, and this has exacted a real toll on senior business executives who’ve collectively felt the stress of financial crises, who’ve been forced to make tough decisions and whose time has been almost completely consumed,” Anderson said.

“When the economy improves and finds its way toward sustainable management hiring, we expect many executives will be eager to seek out new career options, including those that would provide more balance between their work and personal lives,” Anderson added.

The results of ExecuNet’s recently released 20th annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report showed that 55% of executive recruiters surveyed reported that companies are increasing salaries, bonuses and counteroffers to retain executive talent, and 80% of CEOs said their organization will work harder to retain its best talent in 2012 – up from 68% in 2011.


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