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CEOs Feel Good About the Economy and Hybrid Work Is Winning, Says KPMG in This CEO Survey

old guy in a suit jamming out to big headphones and feeling good about the economy or something

The 2024 KPMG U.S. CEO Outlook Pulse Survey is out and 87 percent of the 100 CEOs surveyed say they’re confident in the growth prospects of the economy. That’s good, right? Almost three-quarters of them plan to increase headcounts this year, also good, while just four percent anticipate having to decrease their ranks. All respondents to this survey are CEOs with organizations of annual revenue over $500 million, a third of them are at businesses with more than $10 billion in revenue.

Graphic lifted from the 2024 KPMG U.S. CEO Outlook Pulse Survey

The section on Generative AI is of particular interest as it covers GenAI application, deployment, and concerns over the next 12-18 months. We have no way of knowing just how many of these CEOs actually know what generative AI is or how it can be used in their business beyond asking ChatGPT for some fun ideas for Employee Appreciation Day though 77 percent of them did say they’re confident leadership has a good understanding of it [X].

In order, the surveyed CEOs said the top challenges in deploying GenAI are:

  • Ethical challenges (38%)
  • Security and compliance (36%)
  • Integration with existing systems and processes (33%)

A bit concerning that only 19 percent of CEOs surveyed said they’re currently using watermarks or disclosures that would let consumers know content is made with the assistance of AI. And that only 37 percent of them say they’ve prioritized data privacy using “robust data anonymization techniques.”

The Talent & Culture section shows that hybrid work rules the day while fully remote models are on the decline. What happened between February/March 2024 and last year that made them pull back on 5 days a week in the office?

Revisiting the 2023 CEO Outlook released last October, 64 percent of CEOs surveyed for that report said they anticipated a full return to office within three years. And 87 percent of them said they were likely to reward employees who make an effort to come into the office with favorable assignments, raises or promotions (hey, we just talked about remote workers getting passed over for promotions and raises yesterday).

Although workplace wellness programs are a joke and scientifically proven to do jack shit for individual employee mental health if the workplace itself is broken, respondents say they’re doing the following to address employee well-being and prevent burnout:

  • Implementing more initiatives focused on mental well-being such as digital wellness solutions, mindfulness seminars, resilience workshops and coaching sessions (74%)
  • Encouraging employees to use GenAI to automate mundane tasks to better manage their workload and relieve stress (61%)
  • Facilitating opportunities for employees to strengthen personal relationships with coworkers, such as employee volunteering and in-person training and development (60%)
  • Implementing trainings for managers to more effectively address well-being concerns and burnout among their direct reports (56%)
  • Exploring new organization-wide work schedule shifts such as 4-day or 4.5-day workweek (30%)

That’s it. Well, there’s a last section on sustainability and ESG but who cares. Certainly not the CEOs.

KPMG Study: CEOs tackling risks to growth including geopolitics, cyber and structural changes such as tight labor market, new regulations [KPMG]

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