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Atreus Leadership Survey 2022

Companies focus on maintaining supply chains and retaining and attracting new employees

More than two years ago, the corona pandemic took hold and initially caused a great deal of perplexity in Germany’s companies. Even though the consequences of the crisis continue to this day, it has taught managers and employees a lot and brought completely new competences to light. The majority of managers have realised that the biggest challenges in 2022 will be to maintain and secure supply chains, to build a sustainable and at the same time digital business model, and to create a corresponding corporate and innovation culture. Both are very much geared towards management personnel and their skills.

While the topic of “distance leadership” came to the front last year, the focus is now on employee retention and recruitment as well as business agility due to increasing changes in the corporate environment. This is shown by the new Leadership Study 2022, for which around 1,000 top executives, including managing directors, board members, supervisory board members and interim managers from various industries, were surveyed in January and February 2022.

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“The results of the study show impressively that a new understanding of leadership is taking hold in the companies. There is acceptance of the new and unknown, the urge for change is palpable. Trust, empathy and autonomy determine the new way of working together – and that’s a good thing,” says Rainer Nagel, Managing Partner and CEO of Atreus. “Those who want to compete and retain and attract high potentials need a new mindset, a profound cultural transformation.”

According to the study, the biggest leadership challenge in 2021 was maintaining the supply chain due to global delivery delays and bottlenecks. The issue of employee cohesion and managing the workforce in the home office was also very much on the minds of business leaders last year. In this context, 42 per cent of German decision-makers believe that management demands will remain the same in 2022, while 33 per cent even have better expectations for the current year.


The majority of respondents see the biggest management challenge in 2022 in keeping the right employees on board, attracting them and inspiring them for the company. As instruments to motivate employees, the study participants primarily name the establishment of a hybrid work model in combination with open communication, regular workshops and events as well as new bonus and participation systems. The adaptation or expansion of the corporate culture and the digitalisation of business models and processes are similarly challenging as employee retention and recruitment.

“Although the pandemic is currently often cited as the main reason for restructuring, it is only one change driver among many: Digitalisation, sustainability, climate change – external factors have never had so much influence on corporate development. These market dynamics dominate day-to-day business and require a high degree of willingness to adapt on the part of all employees,” says Dr Harald Linné, Managing Partner and CEO of Atreus.

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The study participants agree on the greatest personal challenges in 2022. The change in leadership culture due to digitalisation and dealing with “distance leadership” remain demanding and will accompany the companies throughout the year. As positive effects and lessons learned from the crisis, however, they unanimously note that working in a home and mobile office works excellently, flexibility has been increased and the majority of employees are very open to a new work culture. Furthermore, it will become enormously important to position oneself as an attractive employer, to ensure a closer integration of top performers, to show perspectives and to integrate further training measures more strongly.

With regard to the topic of sustainability, the opinions of the respondents differ somewhat. While 43 per cent of the managers attach great importance to this topic of the future, 34 per cent see only a medium importance in the company. A full 63 percent of respondents have not yet set up an ESG programme, although those who have (37%) have defined clear and measurable goals (e.g. CO2 neutrality, lower electricity and water consumption, etc.). Only 28 percent have installed a “Head of Sustainability” so far. 72 percent, on the other hand, define ESG as an additional responsibility. According to the study participants, the reasons for not having an ESG programme are a lack of resources and basics, as well as currently different priorities. Nevertheless, the topic of “corporate climate neutrality” is present – most companies are planning net-zero emissions for the years 2030 to 2040.