CEOs' Great Resignation

"The Great Resignation" once described an exodus of workers as they leveraged their upper hands in the post-COVID talent market. Now, the tide is turning: workers are staying put as CEOs enter the churn. 

Across all industries, 164 CEOs left their posts in September, according to the most recent report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an executive outplacement firm that tracks turnover month to month. That's the highest total on record for the third quarter. 

The problem persists in healthcare; hospitals and health systems have reported 125 CEO changes in the first nine months of the year, up 67% from the same time period in 2022. 

Fortune recently described CEO turnover as a "Great Resignation" of its own. 

"Much has been written about how burnout surged during the pandemic as workers faced a series of stressors and uncertainties while navigating the global health crisis," reporter Jo Constantz wrote Oct. 19. "Those feelings of exhaustion may now be catching up to executives, even as the overall quit rate in the US drifts back towards its pre-pandemic normal."

Challenger, Gray & Christmas' data shows that most companies are vague about CEO departures. Although 22% of exits can be attributed to retirements, and 17% stepped down into other C-level, advisory or board roles, the uncertain economy might also be playing a role. 

"Companies are revving up for economic changes in the coming months," said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of the firm, in an Oct. 19 news release shared with Becker's. "With the rise of labor costs and interest rates, companies are looking to new leaders." 

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