Executives’ top concerns include supply chains, labor, and cybersecurity

Overall, AlixPartners pulled three common threads from their survey of C-suite worries: A majority of the CEOs they reached are concerned about busted supply chains (69%), trouble hiring workers (62%), and poorly managed IT networks (60%).

These fears are rational: Each of the three executive phobias took a turn dominating headlines and earnings calls in 2021. Concerns about a labor shortage bubbled up early in the year as economists fretted about the impact of pandemic stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits and workers began quitting jobs in record numbers. IT networks briefly became top of mind around May, when hackers shut down the biggest US fuel pipeline in a brazen cyberattack. And supply chains became executives’ top concern in the second half of the year as shipping rates spiked and retailers resorted to desperate measures to stock shelves ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Each of these fears is also, in one way or another, a symptom of the pandemic. Fear of contagion in frontline jobs, the shift to remote work, and pandemic stimulus checks encouraged workers to rethink their relationships with their jobs. The rise of hybrid offices weakened companies’ cyberdefenses, giving ransomware gangs plenty of easy targets to infiltrate. And Covid-19 outbreaks shut down ports and factories, contributing to the supply chain mess the global economy is still struggling to recover from.

In other words, even if executives aren’t thinking about covid-19 directly, they’ll be spending 2022 grappling with its consequences.

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