Hospital CEO turnover hits a noteworthy low

Companies announced 1,235 CEO exits in 2022, with 103 occurring in hospitals and health systems, a noteworthy low for the sector. 

The finding comes from a Jan. 19 report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an executive coaching firm that analyzes CEO turnover in the U.S. on a monthly basis. 

The 103 moves within hospitals throughout 2022 were down 8 percent from the 112 recorded in 2021. The number marks the second-to-lowest annual total since Challenger, Gray & Christmas began recording hospital CEO exits in 2015. The only other year that brought fewer CEO exits was 2020, when 101 changes were recorded as executives delayed retirements or exit plans amid the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across all 29 industries and sectors measured, the 1,235 CEO exits recorded in 2022 were down 8 percent from the 1,337 CEOs who left their posts in 2021. It is the lowest annual total since 2017. The following sectors topped all industries for CEO changes in 2022: government and non-profits (271), technology (137), healthcare and healthcare products (111), and hospitals (103). 

"The pandemic changed how many hospitals and healthcare companies operated," said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "The industry was plagued by staffing issues and burnout at all levels."

Across all industries, most CEOs (308) retired in 2022, while another 272 took on other positions in the company, usually on boards or elsewhere in the C-suite. Another 288 chief executives and companies did not give reasons for CEO exits, significantly higher than the 155 who did not do so in 2021.

 "The number of CEOs who left without giving reasons could indicate how quickly things changed in 2022," said Mr. Challenger. "The first half of the year saw the highest number of CEOs leaving on record with 774. Then, leadership changes began to slow. This could be because pandemic concerns eased, as did some staffing concerns. Though a downturn was imminent, companies seemed to have their leaders set as we ended 2022." 

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