- CEO exits surged in January, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
- Turnover jumped 37% over the previous month to an estimated 219 exits, Challenger said. The company uses SEC filings, news reports and company announcements to track changes at U.S.-based companies that have been in business for at least two years and employ at least 10 employees.
- January is usually a busy month for CEO turnover, as companies make leadership changes after assessing business conditions at the end of the fiscal year, said Andrew Challenger, VP at the firm, in a press release. Still, "most companies are holding on to their CEOs in some capacity, whether they transition to the Board, remain in a consulting role, or lead a different area of the business," he noted. "This suggests that while a record number of CEOs are leaving that post, the vast majority of companies are generally happy with their performance."
As C-suite shake-ups become more high-profile and arguably more frequent, HR may serve as a strategic partner — both in succession planning and as a pillar of stability.
HR leaders can't always predict departures but succession planning can lessen the impact of exits, Challenger previously said. And because such plans require coordination with other areas to keep company brands and culture intact, HR must have a seat at the table "to fully guide the organization through the change, communicating plans to staff and keeping disruption at a minimum after a high-level departure," Challenger added.
HR professionals also may want to consider what a damage control plan might entail in case of an unplanned, unfriendly departure. While it never may be needed, such a plan can minimize brand damage and ensure that recruiting, among other things, can continue without disruption.