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The future of FTSE 250 companies: Millennials gear up to change leadership norms

62% of future leaders say shift of working norms has seen their work improve – UK workforce reveals

Chris Biggs, partner at Theta Global Advisors, discusses the future landscape of the FTSE250 and how millennials are shifting norms for the better.

With Liv Garfield the youngest CEO in the FTSE 100 at just age 44, she signals the start of Gen X and Millennials taking over leadership positions, and shifting working culture and norms in the process. Further, research from EY shows that 62% of millennials are in management positions, changing the nuanced approaches to these roles as industries begin to see a shift in the FTSE 250 landscape.

Values rooted in diversity, empathy, and flexibility within working cultures drive these millennial CEOs of the present and future, and it seems working norms of being chained to one’s desk, micro management of workloads, and strict suit and tie dress codes are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

This shift in the value systems and working culture norms in the UK has been catalysed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. FTSE 250 leaders, and businesses in general have been forced to adopt the flexible structures and increased reliance on technology that the next generation of millennial business leaders have been advocating for. With the critical mass of the UK workforce coming in at under 35, this switch to remote working, flexible structures, and increased empathetic leadership has resulted in 51% of Brits seeing the quality of their work and productivity increase, as shown by Theta Global Advisors’ landmark research. 

A national study commissioned by consultancy and accounting disruptors, Theta Global Advisors, dissects the newly emotive measures that define productivity in the workplace and how, at its core, stand the millennial, empathetic bosses of the future who respond to the very personal context to professional prowess.

Theta Global Advisors’ nationally representative research on the sentiments of young British workers and businesses as to attitudes to the future of work shows:

Key Stats

  • 62% of 18-24 year old Brits agree that they have seen the quality of their work or their productivity improve due to increased employer empathy, flexibility, and working from home over the last year
  • 45% of 18-34 year old workers in the UK agree that their employers are out of touch with employees needs and are not managing correctly post-pandemic
  • Over a third (35%) of 25-34 year old Brits agree that a lack of empathy from their employers post-pandemic is resulting in their being less inclined to work hard for them
  • A third (33%) of 18-24 year old Brits agree that despite working effectively over lockdown, their employer still doesn’t trust them to work flexibly or from home

Theta’s research shows that at the beginning of the pandemic, more than a third (35%) of Brits stated that returning to traditional office environments would have a negative impact on their mental health and productivity. Now, a year later, this figure has increased to 40% as Brits have adapted and developed an understanding of how they can best work post-pandemic, setting out their expectations of employers more blatantly than ever.

Employees have further proven that the mad dash on the part of employers to get everyone back to the office is is no way the best strategy as we develop post-pandemic. 62% of the young British workforce saw the quality of their work and productivity improve over the course of the pandemic due to increased flexibility and working from home, showing that nuance will be essential as the next generation shift norms from FTSE 250 levels and below.

Chris Biggs, Partner at Theta Global Advisors – a consultancy and accounting disruptor – has commented: 

“The landscape of business leaders and the FTSE250 are on the brink of a major shift. Leaders are younger, and are approaching their management practices with new strategies and mindsets, many of which we have been brought into our collective consciousness following Covid-19.

“Attitudes to the future of work have affirmatively shifted, and to ensure people are at their happiest and most productive, flexibility is needed in both where and when they work. Freedom from the office must also mean freedom to go to the office to account for different experiences, priorities, and conditions. New policies will account for substantial differentiations in employees’ experience of working during Covid-19. However, greater flexibility is still needed to account for different experiences and resources on a case-by-case basis. Working environments are looking like they will never return to what they were in 2019, changing very much for the better.

“As such, while current employers may instinctively want to see their staff back in the office and for work to go ‘back to normal’ as soon as possible, this is not necessarily the strongest or most sensible approach. Indeed, our next generation of leaders are reflecting this with their advocating for flexible hours, working from home norms, and more empathetic approaches to leadership. While these approaches have been seen as idealistic for many years, the last year and a half has shown us that working culture and expectations have changed. Empathy and flexibility will, objectively, result in a far happier, more productive workforce delivering work of a higher standard than before Covid-19. Employees have proven they can be effective when given flexible options or working from home, and employers need to respond to this with trust and structured flexibility approaches allowing employees to alter as necessary as the next generation of leaders take over and continue to accelerate this evolution.”

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