It used to be that a CEO would reach the top spot after years of having worked their way steadily up the corporate ladder. People would stay in one organisation for their entire career, and their experience and dedication to the business would earn them that coveted top spot.
Today, it’s different. Fewer people are following a linear career path. People are more open to moving around, both between organisations and between sectors, and are bringing with them a refreshing, broader experience to heading up a company.
Moreover, in the world of exciting new tech startups, we are seeing more CEOs in their 20s and 30s. And these millennial CEOs are on the rise. With younger generations expected to dominate the global workforce by 2020, we’ll be seeing more and more millennials in the C-suite.
The question is, what impact will millennial CEOs have on the business environment?
An even more decentralised workplace
Millennials are coming into organisations not only wanting flexible working options, but expecting them. Nearly 75% of millennials believe that a work from home or work remotely policy is important. And we are seeing more of this flexibility and freedom in the workplace. In fact, half of the UK workforce is expected to be working remotely by 2020.
As millennials move into CEO positions, flexible and remote working is likely to become even more of a priority. And with the support of technology, is it such a stretch to say that some may end up eliminating the office altogether?
Greater reliance on technology
Millennials have grown up with technology. They were the first cohort to have mobile phones and the internet before they reached adulthood. We are already seeing an influx of digital tools in the workplace and they are changing the way we work. With the rise of the millennial CEO, we can expect to see even more workplace tech shaking up traditional ways of doing things.
Will in-person meetings decline in favour of video conferencing? Despite wanting more opportunities to work remotely, millennials also value face-to-face interactions with colleagues and mentors, and video conferencing and virtual meetings support this.
Tools like Slack are also making it easier for people to work together, collaborate on ideas, and be more productive. For remote workers, these tools also offer value in helping people to feel more connected to their colleagues.
More vocational training opportunities
Millennial leaders are putting more emphasis on vocational, on-the-job training rather than formal training as the best way to learn. And they recognise how important it is to create meaningful learning experiences for the younger generations who place high importance on continuous growth and development.
There are already fewer people going to university now than there were ten years ago. By offering on-the-job training, organisations are making it more possible for school leavers to find work through apprenticeships and work-based skills training. As more millennials move into the top spot, it’s likely that we can expect companies to place an even greater focus on these kinds of offerings.
More emphasis on CSR
Millennials tend to be less concerned with traditional and corporate values and more concerned with working in companies with a purpose beyond turning profit. They want to do work that is meaningful and to make a positive difference in the world around them.
As millennials continue to show interest in supporting the community and the environment, organisations are responding with more corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. The UK is now considered one of the global leaders in adopting CSR principles.
For the companies led by millennial CEOs, CSR will become standard practice. Giving back to the community and being transparent through comprehensive reporting of social and environmental initiatives will no longer be considered novel.
A stronger focus on innovation, creativity and collaboration
Idea generation, critical thinking and problem-solving have always been important for leaders. Though as the marketplace continues to grow and competition becomes even more fierce, millennial leaders will be placing more emphasis on innovation and creativity in order to maintain a competitive edge.
We are already seeing organisations shake up traditional working places to allow for more open collaboration. Hot-desking and creative “break out” spaces that allow for employees to frequently interact and share ideas are becoming more common, and we can expect to see more of this in the future.
Millennials bring with them different goals, ambitions, attitudes and values than the generations before them. Flexible and remote working, a strong social and ethical conscience, as well as the freedom to be innovative and creative, are high on the agenda.
As more millennials move into CEO positions, we can expect the workplace, the culture, and the goals of businesses, to reflect these burgeoning priorities.