CEO Challenges and How They Affect Company Culture

10 min. read

One of the most important factors for improving company culture is taking care of your employees and ensuring they can take care of your customers.

The Conference Board C-Suite Outlook Survey 2022 dug deep into the challenges currently on CEO’s minds and what they see as the biggest challenges going into 2022. These challenges directly affect the company culture strategy for 2022.


Here’s the list of the top five:

  1. COVID related disruption
  2. Rising inflation
  3. Labor shortages
  4. Supply chain shortages
  5. Changes in consumer behavior


One of the clear issues that emerged is that COVID is a marathon, not a sprint. Almost all the challenges are related to COVID in one way or another. One finding that may be surprising is that vaccine availability has fallen to number 27 on the list, down from number two last year, showing that most CEO’s feel it’s not the magic bullet they thought it might be.


The C-suite expect inflation to be an issue until at least the middle of 2023. What’s driving it is labor shortages, supply chain bottlenecks, and energy prices. One for the biggest challenges emerging around inflation is that we have a generation that has never had to deal with this before. “Internally in organizations, this is going to be a big challenge,” said Charles Mitchell, Executive Director for Content, Knowledge, and Quality at the Conference Board. “The first strategy for US companies is to pass increased prices on to the consumer.”


Shift in Focus to a Customers and Employees


This year’s survey asked which groups are most important when making business decisions. Top of the list is customers, closely followed by employees. Shareholders came in third. The notion of multi-stakeholder capitalism is being driven by investors. They’re looking at whether the company will be around in thirty or fifty years. One of the drivers is the labor shortages and that’s expected to be with us for the long term.


“Without talent and a strong and engaged workforce, the ability for an organization to grow is not there,” said Mitchell. “Without customers you have no revenue, but without engaged and committed employees that are well taken care of both physically and mentally, you can’t please your customers. You won’t have revenue and your shareholders are not going to be happy.”


So, one of the most important factors for improving company culture this year should be taking care of your employees and ensuring that they can and do take care of your customers.


In another recent Conference Board webcast, they delved into customer experience and employee experience and how they intersect and affect one another. Quite often the customer experience and employee experience areas are siloed and there is no sharing of information across these two areas in a company.


When employees are not treated well, or they feel they are undervalued, this translates into a less than excellent customer experience. Collecting information from both areas can provide better results.


“Customer and employee experience is bi-directional,” says Ian Cook, Vice President People Solutions Vizier inc. “How the employee interacts with the customer is vital to the customer experience.”


When you make every effort to understand the employee experience and what creates problems for your employees, you can alleviate many of the bad customer experiences. “Most people come to work focused on doing good work and delivering great customer experiences,” says Cook. “It’s derailed by problems and frustrations that cut across their intention.”


It’s vital to listen to both customers and employees, so that you can adjust issues that cause friction. Surveys are one of the best tools to gather the data from both customers and employees, so you can adjust the company culture and policies to create a great place to work where both the employee and customer experience are addressed together.