Mental health awareness among the top 8 executive trends for 2019

Page Executive report reveals mental health and diversity as being among key concerns for the c-suite this year.

The executive-level search division of PageGroup, Page Executive, has released a report exploring the challenges facing business leaders. Now in its fourth edition, the Executive Trends 2019 report explains, among other things that the importance of nurturing workplace mental health has increased. Similarly, it explores the accelerating need for diversity at board level and the rise of new C-suite titles and why they matter.

Below are the eight trends that this year’s report delves into: 

1 Human organisation through digital transformation

The report explains that most executives understand the need to lead their businesses productively through their digital transformation and instead of passively adapting to the changes, proactively develop the skills and vision to take advantage of them. It states that the most effective way to do this is to navigate the rapidly approaching talent shortage and implement the technology necessary to add value. 

The big question for every C-suite is: does the rest of the team have the skills required for this task and do they recognise what’s truly at stake? 

2 Harnessing the value-based millennial mindset

Millennials are coming of age as an employee demographics, already surpassing Baby Boomers and Generation X as the majority of the workforce in some countries. Quoting research by PWC, the report states that millennials will comprise 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020. This is why millennials are top of mind for executives who are taking heed how the values of this generation – for example, their desire for flexible working practices, less rigid corporate structures and meaningful work – will impact corporate thinking and practice.

3 Fast-tracking diversity in the boardroom

Particularly relevant for HR leaders is the importance of diversity, which is being recognised as key. Any leadership team should reflect the diversity (which is to say, the reality) not only of its employees and customer base but of society as a whole. This is because, with technology increasing the complexity of doing business today, leadership teams and boards that lack diversity will not have the skill sets required to face the complexities that the fourth industrial revolution (the Internet of Things, or IoT) will bring. Tackling these challenges requires agile leadership that itself is diverse and that fosters new thinking and reinvention. 

4 Putting mental health centre stage

Because mental illness affects more than 300 million people globally and is reported to have cost business US$246 billion globally in 2017, leaders are increasingly starting to take it seriously as a business concern. They are starting to understand that awareness, support, and acceptance of mental illness can avoid significant expenditure and lead to better employee retention. 

5 The business of meaningful work

In today’s environment, companies no longer simply offer a product or service. Companies need to have a voice and communicate clear beliefs as an integral part of the brand, taking pride in their heritage. Business leaders are beginning to recognise that customers and employees are a huge driver of the why behind purpose, and that the growth of a purposeful organisation often outstrips that of a mission-based one.  

6 The rise of new c-suite titles 

The report finds that titles like ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ and ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ may not be as superficial as they might sound but rather that they relate to specific business imperatives, such as customer experience or digitization, which were previously not prioritised by the business.  Business leaders are having to ask themselves what among these titles or roles is real and what is superficial? How many of these new titles are really needed? Are we inflating boardrooms with very specific technical or functional expertise, when all that really matters are leadership and business acumen?

7 Transparency and culture of candour

Transparency has become a key to organisational culture. However, the report explains that there are varying levels of transparency and that leaders have to be mindful of what is best suited to their organisations. Because, on one hand, a transparent culture that includes open office spaces, social media platforms and smart devices encourages information sharing anywhere at any time. On the other, completely open structures can increase the sense of being on stage – on show, on display and under constant scrutiny.

8  Why the CFO is the guardian of the big picture

The report states that, more than ever, the relationship between the executive board and C-suite is key to success. The board needs to understand the CEO’s vision and believe in it. How can leaders prepare for the future while dealing with short-term goals and safeguard core business to keep productivity high? How can they adapt to change and integrate it into the strategy developed by management?