CEOs Feeling Renewed Confidence in the Global Economy

According to a newly released report, CEOs from around the world are feeling more optimistic about their businesses and the potential for growth in 2021.

According to a newly released report from a survey of 5,050 CEOs in 100 countries and territories conducted between January and February 2021, CEOs are more optimistic about their businesses across the globe. The world may still be grappling with a pandemic that upended global business operations, but with vaccine development and distribution accelerating, there’s reason for some business leaders to be optimistic. Thirty-six percent of CEOs are “very confident” about their organization’s prospects for growth for the next year, up from 27% of CEOs in 2020, while 47% are confident in the next three years.

CEOs are Optimistic about Global Economic Growth

CEOs are also overwhelmingly optimistic about global economic growth, with 76% of CEOs believing that the global economy will improve over the next 12 months. That’s an even greater rebound from 2020, when just 22% of CEOs felt confident about global economic growth. Rightly so, as this was when the COVD crisis was in full swing. Despite the widespread confidence, this sentiment varied across industries, with technology and telecommunications CEOs having the highest levels of confidence at 45% and 43% respectively, while transportation and logistics (29%) and hospitality and leisure (27%) felt the least confident in their ability to grow over the next year.

In terms of regional growth, the United States has extended its lead ahead of China as the location CEOs see as the number one market over the next year. At thirty-five percent, the US is 7 points ahead of China compared to its 1 percentage point lead in 2020. These results are compounded by the recently released CEO Economic Outlook Index, where US CEO optimism for economic recovery increased by 21 points from Q4 2020.

CEO Concerns Have Shifted as a Result of the Pandemic

For years, the annual survey has found that CEOs identified the fear of over-regulation as their number one concern. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this concern has been overtaken for the first time by pandemics and health crises. This was followed by cyber threats as result of rapid global digitalization, which was also identified as the biggest threat by CEOs from North America and Western Europe. As digitalization continues to accelerate (nearly half of respondents plan to increase their digital spending), CEOs will remain focused on misinformation that has impacted crucial public health information.

When asked which “societal outcomes” that businesses should help deliver, CEOs are prioritizing the creation of a skilled, educated, and adaptable workforce. Part of this will be a growing investment in digital solutions in the workforce to increase their organization’s competitiveness. To accomplish this, thirty-six percent of CEOs will focus on productivity through technology and automation across a variety of industries. This reflects the growing importance of technology and digital solutions to support the distributed workforce, where more employees than ever are working remotely.

As businesses implement technological and digital solutions to create a skilled, educated, and adaptable workforce, mobility and HR professionals will be key to unlocking the talent within a distributed workforce. By tapping into the best talent from wherever they are, businesses and their CEOs can continue to position themselves for growth, and increase their confidence in the future even further.

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