Page Executive recently surveyed thousands of UK office workers for our Talent Trends series, including hundreds of CEOs and Managing Directors. The results are an essential consideration for any employer who is looking to attract and onboard business leaders in the near future.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of workplace satisfaction among CEOs and MDs in the UK.

How many UK business leaders are exploring new opportunities?

Our Talent Trends survey showed that half of Chief Executives and Managing Directors are unhappy in their current roles and actively looking for new jobs. Executive-level employees are therefore far more likely than the average UK employee to be searching for another position?

In all, two-fifths (42%) of MDs and more than half (54%) of CEOs said they are looking to leave their current roles, compared to just one-quarter (26%) of all office workers. This might be because leaders have largely remained in their current roles during the pandemic and are confident in their capacity to secure a new board appointment.

A further one-eighth (12%) of CEOs and MDs are unhappy in their current job but not doing anything about it, while two-fifths (39%) said they are happy and aren’t looking to move - a lower rate than for all respondents, where the figure was half (48%).

Mark Lawson-Jones, Partner at Page Executive, commented:

"Over the pandemic, the career paths and reward packages of many CEO and MDs have stagnated, and this has clearly spurred a significant number to try to progress by moving roles. It is also common to hear CEOs and MDs say that they have delivered their major objectives in their current roles, and so are eager to move to new positions with fresh business challenges that will stretch their capabilities and offer exciting rewards."

How do UK business leaders feel about remote working?

The survey discovered that both Managing Directors and Chief Execs feel extremely positive about the opportunities offered by remote and hybrid working, and are also more likely than the average UK office worker to work remotely themselves.

Three-quarters (75%) of CEOs and two-thirds (70%) of MDs said they work remotely, compared to 55% of respondents across all job roles. Of those, 85% said they feel positive about remote working - broadly in line with the UK average - while 44% described their feelings as “very positive”.

As such, it was no surprise that both Chief Executives and Managing Directors cited flexible working as one of their top job satisfaction considerations in regard to their current roles, with CEOs naming it as the most important factor. Meanwhile, MDs listed amount of annual leave as their highest priority.

Are CEOs and MDs satisfied with their pay?

Across our full sample of 5,000 UK office workers, just half (52%) believe their pay is in line with industry standards, with one in three (30%) saying they are underpaid.

Managing Directors and Chief Executives think differently. Four in five (82%) said their pay matches the standards of their industry, while just one in eight (13%) said they are underpaid. Despite this, both CEOs and MDs were more likely than the average UK office worker to agree with the statement: “I don’t feel like I get paid fairly for the hours I work.” Two-thirds (66%) of chief executives and almost three-fifths (56%) of MDs agreed, compared to half (49%) of all respondents.

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Concerning rates of pay at the executive level, Mark said:

"Pay is always an emotive topic when a CEO or MD is seeking a new challenge. It is rarely their number one reason to leave or join a business; instead, the vision and challenge of the business are normally of higher importance, and appeal to the desire many executives feel to create and leave a legacy. Pay will typically be the 3rd or 4th reason why a CEO or MD joins a new business and they are typically seeking a 10-20% uplift in basic salary.”

Is the gender pay gap on the radar of MDs & CEOs?

Our survey revealed that UK office workers are divided over the existence of a gender pay gap, with one-third (36%) believing that their organisations have a pay imbalance, and the same proportion feeling that no such gap exists.

Clearly, senior executives should have the most accurate view of whether or not their organisations have a divide in pay between the genders. So it is interesting to note that an overwhelming majority - three-fifths (63%) of MDs and two-thirds (69%) of CEOs - agreed with the statement: “I think there is a gender pay gap within my organisation.”

What’s next?

With a high proportion of CEO and MDs actively reviewing their current positions, it’s critical for boards to assess their risk of losing executive level talent.

To retain their best leaders, companies will need to be able to engage, challenge, and reward them. And if they are not confident in their capacity to retain those leaders, it will be important to lay out succession plans, which requires a solid understanding of the external executive talent market and the best talent attraction strategies.

Want to bring the best leaders to your company? Read our guide to searching for your next executive team member.

Ready to start your executive search? Get in touch with Page Executive today.

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