Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Businesses need to gear up for millennials in the C-suite

By Neil Murphy, Global VP at ABBYY

The pandemic has led to an inevitable surge in the adoption of technologies across all aspects of work and life. In response to the disruption, technology became a strategic importance for businesses, and leaders accelerated their digital transformation plans in order to survive. But as with everything in business, its people at the forefront, employees across every department, business, and industry are struggling with the pressure.

The current climate has led to many employees experiencing burnout at some stage, but there is an expectation for senior leaders to cope with the additional workload and stress with ease. Similarly, digital-native millennial employees are also expected to breeze through the demands of remote working. Yet,

By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce on a global scale – but what’s more surprising is that 68% feel they are actively encouraged to aim for leadership positions. With this in mind, it’s never been more important to make younger decision-makers feel supported and motivated. It’s time to shine the spotlight on millennials – the leaders of the future boardroom.

Breaking the monotony

Over a year into remote working, the fatigue has most certainly set in – and senior leaders are no exception. It is no wonder that our research found that among UK senior decision-makers, difficulties collaborating with colleagues remotely, finding the motivation to work, and feeling productive were the most tiresome.

The crisis has led to more pressing business decisions needing to be made. Inevitably, this additional strain means executives are struggling to dedicate time completing their day-to-day tasks. An overwhelming majority of millennial executives say processes waste their time, and three-fifths says they make their job more challenging. It’s time for businesses to break the monotony.

It’s clear that businesses must invest in the tools that can alleviate the pressure of processes on their high-fliers. These types of processes can include inputting data, note-taking, electronic filing or processing documents. While only one-fifth of decision makers over-55 found processes a waste of time, the huge pressure younger executives are facing is a ticking time bomb and keeping them happy is critical. If they don’t feel supported, motivated and valued, you risk losing them to the competition.

The illusion of hyped tech

The last year has seen many firms pushed out of business, forced to put workers on furlough, or struggle to attract customers. Now, every financial decision must be carefully considered – and if a business wants to make a technology investment, they need to be confident in its benefits and the impact it will have.

A fundamental step for businesses will be understanding how each technology can improve productivity, and where it will have the most impact. UK senior decision-makers agreed that investing in the right smart technologies to automate processes helps their business to work more efficiently, collaborate more efficiently, and ease the burden of administration. But automation for automation’s sake could compound a multitude of problems.

So, what is the smart investment? Businesses who are seeing the best results are those with the expertise and foresight to investigate further than just the hyped tech. The likes of RPA and AI to automate mundane, manual processes can be transformative, but they have to be part of something bigger. Using just one or two types of automation tools without integrating the technologies that will help achieve business goals is a waste of time and money – two things that a business can’t afford post-pandemic.

Not properly identifying or understanding how process workflows work and how intelligent automation impacts downstream and upstream processes causes major problems. Problems with business processes have notoriously caused huge bottlenecks and barriers – 1 in 4 UK workers admitted frustrating processes made them want to quit their jobs during the pandemic.

Turning towards technologies can help. For example, process intelligence allows executives to discover and address the inefficiencies in their processes head on – helping to understand the value of the automation project, ease the burden of admin, and allowing time to make better decisions and deal with any deluge of emergencies.

Soft skills vs tech skills

One thing is for sure, COVID-19 has taught us that soft skills, which are often overlooked in the workplace, hold just as much value as being adept with technology. Checking in on your colleagues or boosting morale with company-wide surprises helps to keep workers motivated, engaged and happy – all of which are key in improving retention and longevity.

In our hyper-connected world of AI and automation, the human element is more important than ever when we talk about what it means to be ‘future ready’. Knowing that even executives are struggling with motivation and feeling isolated at home is a healthy reminder to the wider workforce that in these unprecedented times, feeling overwhelmed or stressed is normal.

When implementing technologies to improve employees’ productivity, leaders need to be reminded that transitioning your organization into a digitally savvy workplace does not mean forgoing the importance of human connection. Technology should be an enabler for improving collaboration and augmenting human intelligence – not a barrier – in a remote, global workforce.

Looking into the future

The current climate has opened doors for soon-to-be millennial executives to be the driving force behind the business for years to come and champion new strategies that leverage digital solutions to reshape the future boardroom.

But without the right technologies to support them, and the understanding of how they impact processes, people and content, it’s a losing game. Each investment has an impact on all aspects of the business. Giving millennial decision-makers the tools to succeed will not only help them take a seat at the C-suite table – investing in them will be an investment into a brighter future for the business, too.