Executives want to steer the organisation through the crisis


Executives remain loyal to their organisations because of the corona crisis. However, the pandemic may also cause a changing of the guard in the long run for top positions, when a different type of executive is needed after the crisis, or when top managers themselves are ready for a new challenge. Salaries for top jobs will remain stable in 2021, according to the latest Robert Walters Salary Survey.


Executives feel responsible for the organisation

According to Özlem Simsek, managing director at Robert Walters and specialised in executive search, c-level executives feel an extra sense of responsibility for the organisation during the corona pandemic. They want to fight together with the employees to get through the crisis. This dedication ensures that these top managers are more honourable now. Özlem: "As we say: the captain is the last to leave the ship.”

On the other hand, according to Özlem, the fact that some executives are showing risk-averse behaviour during this period also plays a role. "Perhaps some top-level managers feel the itch to do something different, but prefer to wait until the storm has died down."

A different kind of manager may eventually be needed

While executives and organisations are currently pulling out all the stops to get through the pandemic, Özlem believes there may eventually be a need for a different kind of manager. "Maybe the person who demonstrated a strong growth path before the crisis is not the executive who can restructure and rebuild well."

In some hard-hit sectors, Özlem already sees these changes taking place. "The entertainment and tourism sector, for example, have been hit so hard by the crisis that there are already more substantial interventions there."

After the pandemic, executives may be ready for new challenge themselves

According to Özlem, any changes in top positions will not only be initiated from within the organisation. She expects that the group of executives who stayed put during the crisis because they thought the risk of switching was too high will look for new opportunities.

But the other group that stayed because of a sense of responsibility might take stock as well. They have weathered the storm with the entire organisation, and it must have been an incredible rush. I can imagine that the challenge has gone a bit and that they are also open to something new.

Salaries remain stable

Remuneration for top jobs in 2021 will remain at about the same level as a year ago, although, according to Özlem, executives in hard-hit sectors may be asked to make temporary salary cuts.

Özlem also expects salary packages to become more individualised. "It will no longer be a standard basic salary with a bonus or stock options and a company car. Targets will be adjusted to reality per sector. There will be more customisation around agreements for short- and long-term incentives." 

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