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Fear of New Wave of COVID-19 Surges to Execs’ Top Concern, PwC Survey

November 30, 2020, 09:05 AM
Filed Under: Industry News
Related: COVID-19, PwC, Survey

Corporate leaders now identify fear of further shutdowns from a new wave of COVID-19 infections as their top concern (54 percent), outpacing the implications of a global economic downturn (41 percent), according to the latest results of PwC’s Road to Election 2020 Pulse Survey. Additionally, 86 percent of U.S. executives also indicate that it is important for their company to have further federal economic relief from the incoming Biden administration.

Similar to before the election, policy and regulatory shifts are a pressing concern for executives (64 percent) over the course of the next four years under a Biden administration; and in the next 12 months, 71 percent of executives are also now likely to reconsider current investment plans. Further, changes to U.S. corporate tax policies have remained the top policy-related risk (see prior survey results), with over 70 percent of executives now planning to proactively act on a variety of items in anticipation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s tax proposals, including modeling to quantify the impact (89 percent) and engaging in tax planning (87 percent).

Corporate leaders are confident in their companies’ resilience and remain optimistic about growth in 2021, even with lurking implications from the pandemic and potential policy shifts. Moreover, executives feel that they are more agile and better poised to adapt to future uncertainties, noting that they are least concerned about lack of demand (12 percent) and consumer confidence (14 percent).

“As uncertainty about the election outcome has waned, COVID-19 has re-emerged as a top concern for executives as they grapple with what their businesses will look like in the coming months,” said Tim Ryan, PwC US Chair and Senior Partner. “That said, news of possible effective vaccines signal a light at the end of the tunnel and has boosted executives’ confidence in their businesses’ ability to remain resilient in the months to come – and business leaders remain optimistic about future growth opportunities and are planning significant investments in their people, digital, M&A, and more.”

Support for Workforce
Building on prior efforts this year to support their people, 93 percent of executives plan to take further action to support their workforce, particularly around well-being and mental health support (72 percent). The election also revealed that there is still a significant political divide in the country. Most executives (88 percent) plan to proactively address this through a variety of workplace culture initiatives, including: diversity and inclusion training (53 percent), creating new opportunities for employees to discuss social issues (47 percent), and reviewing organizational culture with a focus on empathy and humility (34 percent). Additionally, 32 percent of corporate leaders are more likely to make public statements on societal issues in the future as opposed to shying away from public discourse (11 percent).

“Business plays an integral role in helping to build culture because of its rising position in society and in the communities they serve,” said Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People & Organization practice. “Corporate leaders recognize that they need to continue to help advance societal issues and see it as an opportunity to create a more unified and inclusive environment.”

The full report can be found here.

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