Focus on Family — There are also new challenges with hybrid/remote work as people juggle life outside of work with lines that can get a little blurred. Understanding these needs and providing resources like fertility and family planning benefits, counseling, and mental health perks, will become more commonplace as a way to support a team.

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 Amy Stoldt.

Amy Stoldt Vice President, People & Culture at Snappy Gifts

Amy Stoldt is based out of New York, New York, United States and works at Snappy Gifts as Vice President, People & Culture.

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.

During most of my professional career, I have settled for the behind-the-scenes, individual contributor roles in HR, mostly around compensation, analysis, and data analysis, but infrequently people-facing roles.

In my longest tenured role, I was laid off after 13 years with the reasoning that they were looking for someone to work 50+ hours a week and assumed I was not interested in that role. At the time, I had small children at home, and those hours weren’t the right choice for me. I, therefore, declined the offer and left the company.

During that time, I regrouped to focus on what I wanted to do and reconnected with a friend building a startup in the tech space regarding a lead HR role to build a team from scratch. I didn’t have a generalist background and was not strong in some of the skills required, but I took the leap and went for it anyway!

During that time, I realized that my strengths were actually in people-facing tasks and projects. That is where I was shining in the organization — as a real business partner to our leadership team. It gave me the opportunity to learn on the job and quickly figure many things out on my own. It was a fantastic learning experience that shaped my current skill set and strengthened my doubts about taking on a leadership role and building a team.

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?

I 100% believe that the way we work has changed forever change due to the pandemic. How we have had to adapt over the last two years during this unprecedented time has not only changed the face of work it’s also transformed the way organizations will attract great talent.

I think that remote and hybrid working arrangements will continue in the future, and we’ll continue to adapt as we settle into this new model. Physical office space will be important as a meeting, collaboration, and entertainment space, but many roles will rarely have teams work in-person full time. Going to work five days a week will be a thing of the past.

The biggest way things will change in the coming years is how we lean into recognizing and engaging with our teams in all forms — not just in a monetary aspect but in the ways we continue to try to connect with people creatively and thoughtfully.

Companies need to lead with empathy and understand the individuals on their teams. Understanding when people need to recharge and reaching out to help or ask how they are doing goes a long way. Recognizing people for a job well done is also so important for team members to feel connected. This can be a gift, a mental health day off, or an all-company shout-out.

Lastly, it is vital to give feedback (good and bad) to all our teams to ensure alignment on employee performance and expectations.

The organizations that do these things well will be the ones that experiment, iterate, and develop programs that work for their unique cultures.

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

Assure your senior team leads are aligned with your initiatives and encourage them to lead by example. It’s easy to forget how the actions of leaders can encourage and inspire the rest of this team. Even in a remote or hybrid environment, employees know and sense when the senior team is dialed in or not and whether they are “present.”

In this new mode of working, it is more important than ever that leaders need to get involved in employee-led initiatives, whether in social responsibility, diversity, mentoring, or even new processes and habits.

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?

I do think that requirements to attend some meetings in person will be hard to navigate. People have become very comfortable with opting for a remote option all the time, and it might, unfortunately, start to impact the performance of some individuals.

While some people operate very well in a remote environment, some thrive with in-person interaction. The same is true for different teams and team structures. I think balancing these requests will be a critical challenge moving forward.

In addition, compensation expectations will continue to skyrocket with people knowing they have leverage and could potentially leave a great company to go somewhere else for more — especially with location being less of a factor. Employers will have to make a choice on whether to stretch for those people or let them depart. I think companies will have to determine the long-term value of stretching compensation and ensure it aligns with budgets.

My biggest advice for working through these challenges is to set expectations early and create policies that are easy to understand that consider the unique needs of your team. Making sure the reasoning is clear is also very important!

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

This is probably the biggest experiment in how work can be done since the beginning of the industrial revolution and has changed the nature of work permanently.

Working from home opened up many people’s eyes to what this working arrangement looks like in practice. I think many companies have been surprised at how productive their teams are working remotely, and many people are starting to thrive now that support systems are starting to catch up.

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 and understanding are a few skills that employers have had to embrace and continue to do so with this reimagined workforce. I think autonomy and trust are critical pillars for an employee/manager relationship to work well now and in the future.

I believe that people will wake up to the realization that work/life balance is critical and will, in the long term, help us all to be productive and keep our mental health in check. I also think people will continue to re-evaluate what makes them happy and potentially change careers or take a different path that brings them more joy in their lives.

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

I think that the ability for companies to attract and retain teams almost anywhere will allow for advancement in diversifying our workforces. This makes me optimistic that the future will be brighter and more successful by opening up our pipelines to people from different backgrounds — economically, culturally, and socially.

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?

This has been a difficult time for a lot of people, and change can be particularly hard on mental health and wellbeing. First, ensuring your insurance packages have solid mental health coverage is critical. In addition, offering a platform like Talkspace for online counseling is always a great way to ensure people can get the care they need.

At Snappy, we have started a wellness series around mindful breathing, meditation, better sleeping habits, productivity, and general well-being. These experiments have been inspired by team feedback and are an additional resource for folks that may need them.

Also, I think it is essential that leaders and managers lead by example by taking PTO and ensuring their teams are finding ways to recharge. We all need time to recharge to be more productive and feel good!

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?

While some of this is inevitable due to how much and how fast the world is changing, we need to evaluate how we treat one another from the candidate experience through the entire employee lifecycle. In fact, we’ve adopted the term ‘The Great Appreciation’ to focus on how important it is to make sure the employee experience is the best it can be.

It’s easy to zero in on appreciating and recognizing your current team, but an employer’s reputation here is equally important. Even in a candidate experience where you don’t end up hiring a person, they still build an impression of your organization and will share it with others.

Also, healthy attrition isn’t always a bad thing. For some people, it’s a chance to grow, explore a new career, or follow a new passion. The employee experience extends beyond their last day, so focusing on a meaningful experience only strengthens company culture and improves your ability to find talent in this unique environment of change.

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

  1. We’re entering the Great Appreciation — Finding ways to appreciate, recognize, and celebrate employees will be increasingly important in this new climate as you hire, onboard, and retain great talent — and inspire them to grow at your company.
  2. Hybrid is here to stay, but it will evolve — Remote and hybrid work experience is going to be the new norm, but we’re still going to see shifts in what it looks like. New technologies, systems, and management techniques will continue to help the world adjust.
  3. New and Meaningful Perks/Benefits — The organizations that will successfully transition and grow in this new environment will introduce benefits that mirror the hybrid work experience and reflect the unique company culture — home office stipends, employee gifting, and onboarding packages are a great start!
  4. Financial Education — The financial landscape has contributed greatly to the “Great Resignation”. Providing resources for employees like financial education, tuition reimbursement, 401k matching, and student loan paydown programs can help employees navigate these waters and perform better.
  5. Focus on Family — There are also new challenges with hybrid/remote work as people juggle life outside of work with lines that can get a little blurred. Understanding these needs and providing resources like fertility and family planning benefits, counseling, and mental health perks, will become more commonplace as a way to support a team.

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?

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

As I’ve built my career, this quote has served as a helpful reminder as to what my priorities are. Yes, making sure hiring plans, compensation, and benefits are executed properly is important, but I love what I do because of people. Making sure people are supported and feeling the best they can about their work gets me excited to start work each day and helps us make sure we’re building something truly special at Snappy.

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.

Melinda Gates would be so interesting to meet. She is such a strong leader who has had a profound impact on the planet and person who has shown vulnerability in her life in the spotlight!

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?

If anyone wants to connect, LinkedIn is the best place to find me.

Of course, I’d love you to check out Snappy and explore any open roles on our team that may interest you!

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