A Must-Do Reset List for 2022

Seven in 10 CEOs are worried about job security amid the early-year disruptions. Experts suggest everyone take a fast reboot. 

Thanks, Omicron. So far, 2022 feels like an extension of last year’s slog of supply chain snarls, operations chaos, and seemingly endless meetings about vaccines. Although many balance sheets ended 2021 on a high note, for executives those earnings came at a personal cost. “Leaders have been burning the candle at both ends and are now exhausted,” says Dan Kaplan,  senior client partner for Korn Ferry’s CHRO practice. Leaders are anxious as well. A new survey out last week of 3,000 executives found that 72% of CEOs are worried about losing their jobs this year because of disruptions. 

Rather than rolling through January wracked with anxiety, experts say, executives should take time for a reset. Here are some thoughts on how CEOs and the rest of leadership can negotiate the pandemic complications. 

Tend to the relationships you’ve been putting off. Executives everywhere have been waiting to reconnect with colleagues, new and old, “until after the variant.” But Nathan Blain, senior client partner for optimizing people costs at Korn Ferry, says since the pandemic isn’t going away any time soon, it’s best to refresh those industry networks and work relationships now. “A lot of these have atrophied over the last two years, because the forums we usually use to connect have disappeared,” he says. Blain suggests scheduling safety-conscious walks or coffees with coworkers or clients you’d like to get to know. 

Don’t waste a good crisis. The labor and supply chain crises may be an opportunity to reshape the future. “Everybody’s house is on fire, and when that happens, people tend to just react to operational issues,” says Blain. “This is the time to imagine the supply chain or workforce of the future.” He suggests taking a long view: yes, new organizational structures, vendors, and factories all take years to install. But this is the messy part that leads to improvements. 

Prioritize a culture of belonging. Kristi Drew, global account leader for Financial Services at Korn Ferry, says that employee stress, anxiety, and depression are sky-high. Creating a sense of belonging, she says, reduces all of these while boosting job performance, reducing turnover, and lowering sick days. Drew suggests creating mentorship programs, especially for new employees. “Pair them with a buddy and a mentor,” she says. An ideal mentor can advise on development and growth, both personally and within the organization, while a buddy — a peer — can show them the ropes and answer questions openly.

Ask employees where they want to go. Growth opportunities drive both attraction and retention, says Elise FreedmanWorkforce Transformation practice leader at Korn Ferry. “Managers who do this well have a strong network themselves and really know the strengths and interests of their people,” she says. Freedman advises executives to keep their ears to the ground to find opportunities for people throughout the company and to meet with staffers one-on-one this month to talk about their interests and development possibilities.