Prioritizing demands. For example, when it’s important to be in office versus when something could be accomplished remotely. Choosing your battles. This also goes hand-in-hand with hiring for aptitude and attitude rather than hard skills. If you can compromise on certain needs or wants, then everyone will be more inclined when there’s a hard ask in place.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Adam Rudman.

Adam Rudman is managing director and line of business lead of direct hire for accounting and finance in Vaco’s Los Angeles office. Rudman, who joined Vaco in 2016, is responsible for expanding Vaco’s team to best serve clients and candidates, navigating everchanging business needs throughout the greater Los Angeles market. Rudman has nearly ten years of client service and recruiting expertise and specializes in accounting and finance positions, ranging from executive to mid-level and staff positions.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

I’m the oldest child of three boys, so my entire life was a blend of being the leader and the mediator for all of life’s complexities, which has translated into where I am today in my career. As the oldest sibling, I had to navigate leading my brothers by setting an example. If my brothers were fighting, I had to break them up or my parents would assume it was my fault (naturally, as the oldest). In my profession, I deal a lot with being the mediator and finding a common ground between our client’s needs and candidate’s skill sets. It takes creativity, a listening ear, and empathy that I learned to adapt throughout my childhood. I empathize with the new accounting and finance professionals because I was also unsure about where my career was going when I graduated college. With a few swings, a miss, and a homerun, I found where I’m supposed to be — helping clients grow their business and candidates land their dream job.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

The hybrid work environment is here to stay. There will always be a need for on-site, especially in learning and teaching skillsets, but there will also be the need for flexibility and remote opportunities to engage professionals globally.

Something that may change about work is how the work gets done. Technology is increasing at great speeds and on a daily basis. Tools are simplifying our jobs, which is amplifying the need for a technical workforce. I believe it’s a misconception that technology will decrease the workforce because with more technology, we need more specifically skilled professionals who are equipped to navigate it. It opens a whole new realm of positions needed within an organization.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Hire for aptitude and attitude. People who are enthusiastic about what the organization does and are energized by the goal of accomplishing what your organization is set out to do will succeed far beyond someone whose resume shows the hard skills that they can do the job.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

The gap that I see with many employers today is the mindset of “how things have always been or always were” versus “how they are today.” For example, 20 years ago the workforce had an overarching theme that “you’re lucky to work for those companies,” whereas now, employers are “lucky to have their employees.” Employers are shocked to see salary increase asks that are higher than what they made when they started, but that’s because times have changed. Companies must evolve with change to find, hire, and maintain top talent. The organizations that accept change, embrace it, and move with market trends are almost always successful in retaining talent.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

The experiment and experience of working from home opened our eyes to the ability to work remote, but it also exposed areas of weakness. It has been proven that new hires who were brought on during the remote/pandemic era, have taken longer to get up to speed than those who were hired pre-pandemic. There’s immense value in being in-person and being immersed in work with teammates to learn from one another. But without the pandemic, we may have never seen the value of remote work and the flexibility it has provided.

I think when individuals are fully remote, the cream rises to the top. You have to be a bit more motivated to work as hard, rather than when you’re sitting across from your teammates in an office and can learn from hearing their conversations. When Covid first hit and we were told that we needed to pack our desks up and work fully remote, I was having trouble concentrating. I’ve always struggled with focusing, so adapting was a real challenge for me. I had to find new solutions for myself, and some were successful and some were not. It was a new learning curve. Combine that with starting a new job, and it can be a lot to take on.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

Flexibility will be the primary shift from a societal perspective. No one has benefited more positively than the working parent. The ability to take a day from home to navigate their kid’s extracurriculars or days off, for example, and honoring other parental obligations in addition to professional obligations is hugely beneficial. I think that flexibility for individuals to live life while also doing their job is something that has made a positive impact in society.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

My greatest source of optimism about the future of work is seeing how talented young professionals with no prior experience are. I remember where I was when I first graduated college and the lack of direction I had. I’m humbly impressed with the new workforce and their technical knowledge. The technological age and those who have grown up with information via the internet have set themselves up with more existing knowledge than I had when I entered the workforce. There’s a noticeable difference in their skills and understanding of systems, products, and various technologies that even I still need more time to understand.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

First of all, just by acknowledging mental health and wellbeing and removing the stigma around mental health in the workplace is a great step in the right direction. It’s important to understand that everyone feels and moves in different ways, and that’s okay. I think this new flexibility allows that, by providing the ability for someone to take a day when they need it without feeling remorse. Companies, like what Vaco has done, can also take it a step further and implement regular mental health promoting activities like weekly yoga in the office, summer Fridays, team building opportunities to grow and develop relationships with peers, offering subscriptions to meditative and/or workout apps, and more. Supporting and offering mental health resources like therapy and treatment to anyone who needs it is also crucial.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

I guess it’s just a Great time, isn’t it? Culture is never going to be finite. It’s driven by employee happiness, engagement, enthusiasm. Culture needs to be redefined and redeveloped as times change — which includes driving it by what people enjoy. Culture has to evolve to support future growth, like revamping a company’s 401K, PTO, and schedules. I see it in our industry every day — there are those who were once the culture leaders who are now seeing significant turnover because they didn’t work to shift the culture with the changing times.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. Flexibility. Candidates are the leader of the market and one of their top desires when looking for a new job is flexibility. Whether it’s the ability to work remote and/or hybrid, to work from anywhere, benefits and compensation, reasonable time off, and more, candidates want flexibility and on their terms. A candidate could be at the end of the interview process with a client, and if the client doesn’t match their flexibility needs the candidate will walk and they probably have a few other offers waiting in the meantime.
  2. Hiring for aptitude and attitude. This is the number one piece of advice that I coach our clients on. I ask our clients, “what are three things from the resume that the candidate must have? The non negotiables.” Once they answer, I say, “Ok, great. Now, let’s find someone who really wants the job and is willing to go above and beyond to be successful because you can’t teach someone to have aptitude or a positive attitude.”
  3. Evolving culture. To retain top talent, companies must shift their culture over time. The technology companies are all over this. We’ve watched them shift from ping pong tables to beer kegs in the office, to working fully remote, or having flexible PTO. In accounting and finance, culture can be more rigid. It’s the 9 to 5 or longer, in-office requirement, and strict promotion plan that made people like me jump from job to job until I found my place. All companies should stay true to their values, but also should evaluate the market and identify what the talent they’re looking for drives them. Is it beer kegs or the ability to work from home a few days a week? Shift with the times.
  4. Shifting the mindset — you’re lucky to have top talent rather than they’re lucky to work for you. There was a time when it meant a great deal where someone worked, regardless of the benefits, compensation and perks. The corporate name, the status, and job title were all the rage. Today, candidates will walk out the door if needs and wants aren’t satisfied. There has been a big shift in the mindset of “you’re lucky to have top talent” rather than “they’re lucky to work for you.” It can be a tough pill to swallow for organizations. When a company is facing consistent challenges with filling roles or retaining top talent, and they say something like “I don’t understand what’s going on. We’re an XX billion dollar public company and we have been around for 50 years. We have the name that everyone knows.” I take that as an opportunity to coach them up on what today’s candidates are seeking in a career, whether it’s flexibility, growth opportunities, benefits, remote or on-site opportunities, and more. And if the organization decides to keep doing what they’re doing, they might face more challenges in finding and retaining talent.
  5. Prioritizing demands. For example, when it’s important to be in office versus when something could be accomplished remotely. Choosing your battles. This also goes hand-in-hand with hiring for aptitude and attitude rather than hard skills. If you can compromise on certain needs or wants, then everyone will be more inclined when there’s a hard ask in place.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

I grew up in the Sandlot era, and I have always emulated Babe Ruth’s famous bat point when he says, “Call your shot.” Say you’re going to do something and do it, and don’t let anything stop you in the meantime.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Richard Branson. He’s an expansive figure and outlines a lot of what we’ve discussed above. He’s a leader in leadership and he understands how to grow businesses while making employees excited to be part of those businesses.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Email me at [email protected], and follow @VacoGlobal on LinkedIn to stay in the know on much of what I’ve discussed above, and beyond.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.