10 charts on the outlook and plans of Dutch CEOs

16 March 2021 Consultancy.eu 6 min. read

Global professional services firm PwC has released the 2021 edition of its CEO Survey, an annual study into the top trends and priorities of chief executive officers worldwide. 10 charts that summarise the report's key findings for the Netherlands. 

Economic recovery

An improved outlook: Dutch CEOs report high optimism about the global economy, with 72 percent believing growth will improve in 2021. And the CEOs’ optimism extends to their own company’s performance: 65 percent of the CEOs surveyed say they are confident about their organisation’s prospects for revenue growth over the next year.

Do you believe global economic growth will improve, stay the same or decline over the next 12 months

The results mark a significant rebound from PwC’s 2020 survey, which was completed well before the pandemic began. CEOs in the Netherlands are also optimistic on the prospects of their own organisation’s profitability outlook:

What are your organisation’s expectations for profitability over the next 12 months?

Organic growth is seen as the largest driver of growth, while over half expect to launch a new product service:

Which of the following activities, if any, are you planning in the next 12 months in order to drive growth?

Digital transformation

As a result of the Covid 19-crisis, CEOs are planning to accelerate their organisation’s digital transformation. Looking ahead, 76 percent of Dutch CEOs plan to increase their investments in digital transformation.

How do you plan to change your long-term investments in… over the next three years, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?

However, at the same time, CEOs have become more concerned about cyber threats at a time when many processes have moved to the virtual and digital spheres. In fact, cyber threats equal now overregulation – the number one of previous years – on top of the list of CEOs main concerns. They also see the spread of misinformation as a major concern.

Which from the following list of potential business, economic, policy, social and environmental threats to your organisation’s growth prospects are you extremely concerned about?

These digital-driven concerns are partly reflected in their risk strategy of companies:

Are the 'extreme concerns' of CEOs reflected in their risk strategy


The optimistic economic outlook of CEOs is reflected in their expectations about the size of their workforce. While a third of CEOs have had to reduce their headcount in the past year (even higher at family businesses), CEOs’ hiring expectations suggest however a steady improvement in employment.

CEOs expect steady employment improvement

Due to the dramatic changed working conditions of their workforce, 43 percent of the CEOs want to focus more on company culture in their HR strategies and 33 percent on the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

Which aspects of your workforce strategy are you changing, if any, to make the greatest impact on your organisation’s competitiveness


Half of Dutch CEOs indicate that they will invest more in environment, social or governance (ESG) initiatives in the coming years. The economic impact of Covid-19 has not pushed ESG off the executive agenda, but the subject has not risen much either. What is striking is the difference between the large and somewhat smaller companies.

Sustainability and ESG Environmental, social and governance initiatives

More than half of the CEOs in the Netherlands think the government is committed to a ‘green’ recovery:

How likely is it that the government’s recovery plan will effectively balance short-term economic needs with long-term environmental goals?

About PwC’s CEO Survey - Netherlands

More than 5,000 leaders participated in the global survey for PwC’s CEO Survey, with 141 CEOs based in the Netherlands among the respondents.