What Keeps Business Leaders Up at Night? (Hint: It’s Not Just the Economy)

Man suffering a sleepless night

What Keeps Business Leaders Up at Night? (Hint: It’s Not Just the Economy)

Raise your hand if you love turning the clocks back in November and hate springing forward in March. Yeah, us too. That one lost hour can be so disorienting. And it’s not as if you didn’t already have enough on your mind and your plate. As advisors to business leaders, we hear about the thoughts and concerns that lead to middle of the night wakeup calls. And while the people we work with are diverse in the types of organizations they lead and how they operate, what keeps them up at night seems to converge around some common themes.

#1 – Balancing Work and Family. Work is a part of life and for some of us, a quite fulfilling part. But most people don’t want work to be their entire life. How to find the equilibrium between personal and professional commitments is a puzzle that requires consistent attention. For some people, it’s about creating clear, firm boundaries to keep life and work separate. For others, it’s more about work-life integration and blurring the lines versus drawing the lines. What holds the most benefits for you? Do you have a strategy for moving toward more balance or is it just a wish and a dream?

#2 – Getting and Keeping Employees. There’s no question that 2022 was a roller coaster year for employers. In 2023, we’re continuing to see a tight labor market with employers vying for top talent or any talent at times. It may be strenuous to get and keep employees, but what works isn’t a mystery. Your recruiting and retention strategy starts with truly understanding what employees want. Money can’t buy loyalty, but a holistic experience incorporating meaning, relationships, room for growth and yes, competitive pay and benefits, just might.

#3 – Building Business Sustainability. Effects of the pandemic, supply shortages, inflation and other factors have created a need to re-examine the fundamentals and nothing is more baseline than how to make a profit sustainably. Start by looking at the environment and talking with external stakeholders to build on or expand your core assets. Explore scaling up the business to see where breakdowns or opportunities arise at different levels of growth. Consider whether there are technology advancements or strategic financial shifts you can take. These steps often lead to a more resilient business.

#4 – Keeping Customers Satisfied. You may not have read the statistics, but you’ve experienced it: Customer satisfaction is at its lowest in more than two decades. To improve satisfaction, remember that how you deliver for your customers is as important as what you deliver. Look at every touchpoint to make sure employees and systems are geared for experience and not just efficiency. Create opportunities for customers to complain and you to learn. As Henry Ford said, “It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.”

The next time you spend a sleepless night tossing and turning over one of these worries, first know that you’re not alone. Then make a note to talk to your team in the morning. Set a task to meet with your circle of friends and advisors. Remember that you haven’t by any means run out of ideas or options for tackling these important priorities. And start getting a better night’s sleep in 2023.