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The results from a recent report from West Monroe revealed that 49% of C-suite executives believe the COVID-19 pandemic has had the largest impact on their businesses — with the related Great Resignation and labor shortages coming in at a close second — indicating that other issues in 2021 garnered less attention from execs.

This past year taught everyone that the world is still constantly evolving. The C-suite responded to the changing business landscape by tackling problems that were unexpected even just a year ago. The Delta variant and COVID-19 had the largest impact on business in 2021 according to the execs polled. Another 15% felt the pandemic’s effect on employees had the largest impact on their organization. West Coast respondents felt the pandemic’s effect on employees the most (18%), while the Midwest region was the least fazed, with just 9% citing it as having the largest impact on business.

Pie graph. Title: A lookback at 2021's largest impact on business. 15% said the pandemic's effect on employees. 34% said the delta variant and/or COVID-19. 18% said the Great Resignation. 18% said shortages and scarcities. Caption: The pandemic still weighed heavy in 2021, while everything else took a backseat.

Above: According to C-Suite Executives surveyed in Q4 by West Monroe, the pandemic and its related effects had the largest impact on business in 2021, while everything else was forced to take a backseat.

Image Credit: West Monroe

The Great Resignation, shortages, and scarcities accounted for 18% each. With the job market as hot as ever, employees began leaving their companies en masse. Execs were forced to get creative and test out new strategies to hire and retain the best talent. Increasing salary, location flexibility, and contingent talent were the top approaches, according to the respondents. Unsurprisingly, CFOs were the most concerned execs about shortages and scarcities (24%), followed by 22% of COOs.

All of this meant less time for executives to focus on other pressing business issues, including investing in tech (4%), cyberattacks (3%), availability of the vaccine (3%), and ESG trends/activism, which wasn’t at all a large concern to the C-suite compared to other business issues in Q4.


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The report is based on survey results from 150 C-level executives with companies of at least $250 million in annual revenue, collected between September 17 to September 21, 2021.

Read the full report by West Monroe.

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