Flexible Work Schedules: The overarching concept of the 5-day 40/hour work week is outdated and must be dismantled. For example, an employee may be able to generate the same results working 3 12/hour days or 4 10/hour days or even 4 8/hour days. The bottom line, hours worked is not equivalent to results generated. Employees are no longer willing to spend more time at work than with their own friends and family.
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 Angela Caufield-Thompson.
Ange is an experienced leadership coach, business consultant and corporate trainer with a background in Business Administration and Marketing & Management. Her magic is her unique approach and natural ability to adapt her communication style to any audience. Combining her management experience, leadership skills and love of teaching, Ange is dismantling the traditional approach to coaching.
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.
Absolutely! I’d love to share a bit more about what shaped the person I am today. The biggest leap I’ve taken in recent years is leaving my corporate job to start the business of my dreams. In April of 2020 (early pandemic), I left my good paying job with great benefits in an industry that continued to boom over the last several years. For over 10 years, I was a manager for one of the world’s largest retail corporations. It sounded insane to everyone I knew! They all wondered why I would pick this particular time to leave a job that was so stable.
The answer was simple. I was unhappy, unfulfilled and I couldn’t see working for the next 20 years in a career that I didn’t find joy in. There is no way I could’ve foreseen that the pandemic would continue for the next two years. I left my extremely physical job, that had me interacting with thousands of people every week, to an isolated, sedentary brand new baby business, in addition to teaching two separate children two different grades (one in a dual-language immersion program). Looking back, it does sound a little insane! However, for the first time in my entire life, I believed fully and completely in myself and my ability to succeed. I followed my heart, my ambition and my dreams over what other people thought I should do.
The amount of fear I overcame had once seemed insurmountable. Although I walked away from a good salary and great benefits, the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years about my strength, resilience and drive are priceless.
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?
Whether we like it or not, the disruption to the capitalist system we’ve maintained has just begun. It will take many years to dismantle and rebuild a new system; one that is designed with a foundation of equity for all humans. Regardless which type of system our work and workforce is operating under, there will always be the same need for specific types of labor where ‘dollars for time’ is the reigning compensation system. For example, medical professionals, tradespeople and educators. I am not stating that the wages will not increase- more that the need for specific jobs and roles to be filled to maintain our current infrastructure will always be there. We are seeing shortages of properly educated and trained individuals in these fields, leading to overworked employees that burn out long before anticipated or voluntarily leave the field they were educated in to pursue other avenues of work such as entrepreneurship, where the individual has control over the money they make and the hours they work.
Looking through a different lens and considering what will be different about the workforce in the next 10–15 years, I predict that the majority of administrative jobs will remain or move to working remotely. Employers have discovered that tremendous amounts of overhead can be reduced by keeping people at home, rather than requiring them to work from an office. Remote working also allows employers to hire from a larger pool, thus making certain positions more competitive and in turn hiring the most qualified candidates for their positions. The workforce in America has had a taste of what flexible work schedules can mean for their personal lives. The old and outdated approach where ‘work comes first’ and the ‘customer is always right’ will be a thing of the past. Americans have learned the value in flexibility, support with mental and emotional health and recognition for their efforts and will not continue to work for companies that do not provide benefits in these areas.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Focus on leadership. Up to 57% of employees leave their jobs as a result of their managers. What does this mean for companies? Turnover and attracting fresh new talent is controllable. Foster an inclusive supportive environment where employees are praised for the ideas they generate and work they bring to the table. Build and maintain genuine connection with your teams and encourage other leaders in your company to do the same. Happy, fulfilled employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. Take surveys from your current staff, hold regular round-table meetings or start an internal company newsletter. The more information employees have, the deeper their connection to the overall mission becomes. When your staff is connected with your mission, everyone wins! When push comes to shove, check your ego, roll up your sleeves and dive in. Now more than ever, walking the talk is critical to the success of organizations.
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?
Employers still have a hard time investing in things that they feel won’t result in instant gratification. Investment of time and money into new systems that support the mental, emotional and physical well-being of their staff can take time to track and experience tangible results. Change can be challenging and it can be scary. Organizations that have operated the same way for 20 years (for example) may find it extremely difficult to get everyone to see the value in making changes for the future of their staff. My father worked a high-level public sector job for nearly 30 years. In that time, he reported to work Monday through Friday 7:30am-5pm, week in and week out earning a salary and benefits based on the hours he was there. As his career, society and the workforce evolved, he had an extremely difficult time conceptualizing that not all employees were willing to accept this rigid 5 day per week 9.5 hour/day schedule. He was challenged by the concept that an employee could get the same amount of work done in a 4 day work week for example, or on a schedule from 10am-7:30pm rather than the hours he was used to working. The bottom line is, he was willing to sit down and have the conversation with his staff to come up with the best possible solution for everyone. My father checked his ego and listened intently to the needs of his team. He collected all suggestions that were made, weighed them carefully and enacted the changes he was able to make, given the nature of his industry and the position he held. The changes he was unable to make, he followed up with his employees to let them know why their suggestions were not implemented at that time. Open and transparent multi-directional communication is required for the success and benefit of any organization.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Working from home will become a standard for any administrative positions that don’t require customer facing work. Travel and in-person meetings will become the minority in industries where it is at all possible. The new generation in the workforce values flexibility of time and work schedules. Providing positions that allow employees to work from home will allow companies to attract new and fresh talent that is excited to bring ideas to the table and generate the best possible results for the company.
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?
We have got to continue to prioritize mental health as a regular part of compensation packages in the workforce and education in school systems. Now more than ever, it is critical to recognize, treat and heal these ‘invisible diseases’ that plague the majority of our society. In addition, more tangible, real-world knowledge of finances should be mandatory. It is not enough to teach overarching themes or concepts of economics. We must educate our children on things like earning and maintaining proper credit, how to save for their futures, why investing in their health early on is so important and having equal access to education, healthcare, career and compensation will only propel our society in a positive direction.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
We are finally edging into an era that no longer accepts birth, work, death as the standard of living. People are recognizing their own inherent value and want more than just to wake up and work for 40 years of their lives. This is positive for many reasons. One, companies will have to do internal reflection on the benefits, work schedules and compensation packages that are being provided. The more employees feel genuinely supported, the better quality work they will provide. Secondly, happy, fulfilled employees are more productive than unhappy employees. When companies take the time to ensure their staff feels happy and fulfilled, they reduce costs from turnover, workers compensation and experience fewer sick days from their teams. Finally, dismantling the current capitalist system to rebirth a new system with a foundation of success for all people is a win-win scenario. The betterment of society as a whole comes from marginalized groups of people having the same access (without barriers) to education, career and compensation.
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?
One of my favorite new strategies I’ve seen companies using is hiring a Corporate Stress Management Coach. These particular coaches develop workshops, trainings and interactive seminars to teach employees how to reduce stress and incorporate movement and other healthy practices into their daily routines. Staying ahead of employee burnout is absolutely imperative. Figuring out how to cultivate a low stress work environment results in a happier & healthier workplace. This process can be fun, simple and includes a myriad of benefits for the employees and the company. My favorite Corporate Stress Coach can be found here.
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?
Yikes! These headlines can be daunting. However, it is critical that leaders understand that up to 57% of employees leave because of their managers. This is great news! It’s great news because it means that the ‘Great Resignation’ is preventable. There are proactive steps and measures that leaders can take to ensure they foster an inclusive, healthy, happy work environment. The evolution of company culture is more important now than ever. The standard ‘one size fits all’, ‘do what we say, when we say, or else’ approach just isn’t cutting it anymore. Companies must prioritize proactive, transparent communication with their employees.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Flexible Work Schedules: The overarching concept of the 5-day 40/hour work week is outdated and must be dismantled. For example, an employee may be able to generate the same results working 3 12/hour days or 4 10/hour days or even 4 8/hour days. The bottom line, hours worked is not equivalent to results generated. Employees are no longer willing to spend more time at work than with their own friends and family.
- Benefits And Retirement Packages: It is no longer enough to offer pizza parties and donuts. Up to 92% of employees say that benefits are important to overall job satisfaction. When employees are happy and satisfied they are more productive and generate better results. Companies are able to retain their current staff and attract new and fresh talent. Everybody wins!
- Innovative Support Systems For Mental and Physical Health: Hire a Corporate Stress Management Coach or a physical therapist to be on site (in industries that are more physical). Create hobby groups, support groups or volunteer opportunities for employees. Offering discounts on smoking cessation, access to counselors, weight-loss or gym memberships are all ideas for providing access to mental and physical health support systems.
- Access To Childcare (For Those Working In-Person): This does not apply to all individuals in the workforce. However, for those that are working in person, access to childcare could be a determining factor on the ability of the individual to accept or maintain a position. Especially in industries that work irregular hours, weekends, holidays or over the Summer, access to childcare can open up the possibilities of the hiring pool significantly.
- Built-In Systems For Employee Feedback And Recognition: Fostering an environment that employees feel recognized, appreciated and valued is crucial. Is there a ‘suggestion box’ in the breakroom? Or a monthly or quarterly email survey being sent to your employees? Are the leaders of your organization having regular feedback conversations with their staff? Has your company created SOP that have been communicated clearly to the staff and are accessible to all stakeholders? These are just a few suggestions on how to consistently show your employees that the company cares about their wellbeing.
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?
“Throw hesitation and insecurity out the window.” -Jasmine Wright
Fear is what keeps us small. Fear keeps us where we are instead of where we want to be. Whether we’re concerned about failure, judgment, rejection or comparing ourselves to others, fear shows up in a variety of ugly ways. Our divinely guided most intuitive thoughts happen within the first 5 seconds. After that, feelings about the thought take over. Not every decision we make will be comfortable or easy. But our dreams lie on the other side of our fear! Let it go and take hold of the life you want.
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.
Well, hello First Lady Michelle Obama! What an honor it would be to dine with her! The grace, poise and eloquence displayed by Mrs. Obama is something that is forever ingrained in my brain. Her unique approach to the role of First Lady of the United States was something to behold. But the thing I respect most about her is her fun-loving nature, her smile and laugh and above all, she loves her children (all of our children) fiercely. It is this deep collective of protecting and uplifting our kids that I appreciate about her the most! And come on, what an incredibly stunning and stylish woman 🙂
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 list- https://www.angethompson.net/anges5things
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.