Businesses supporting their workers’ need for life experiences. Gifts helping people look good, work out, and travel were also in demand this season.
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 Archer Chiang.
Archer Chiang started his first software development company when he was 19. He sold his business a year before graduation. In his final year of college, Archer launched his first social gifting service. Later, he tapped into the Internet of Things (IoT), developing software for Sony, Hitachi, and other producers of smart devices as well as developers of smart construction technology, such as Panasonic.
His new company, Giftpack, an AI-driven service, aims to transform the way people and businesses choose gifts. The New York-headquartered company has offices in Tokyo, Seoul, San Francisco, and Taipei. Giftpack achieved a 92% satisfaction rate by challenging the “one-size-fits-all” approach to corporate gifting.
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 had to completely reshape and rebuild my business during the pandemic. Before COVID-19, our first product, an on-demand global gifting service called Giftpack.io, was available in 29 cities and 6 countries worldwide. Users could pick out gifts with hyper-personalized experiences, and we had a fleet of over 5,000 contractors to deliver them within a couple of hours.
But when COVID happened, most delivery companies either went bankrupt or scaled back their operations in a big way. Our contractors refused to work, and revenue dropped dramatically. We could barely pay our employees’ salaries. So I had to make a difficult decision and pivot to a slightly different sector, one that looked more promising under pandemic conditions. We reallocated all available resources into building a new business, Giftpack.ai, focusing on AI-powered technology to match recipients with personalized gifts based on their digital footprint.
It was a tough decision, but if I hadn’t gotten out of my comfort zone, eventually we could’ve lost everything. Since the pivot, we’ve been incredibly successful, both in terms of attracting investment and attracting clients. Our corporate accounts went up from 24 to 1088, and the service is now available around the world. Also, our satisfaction rate increased from 92% to 99%, and the average check rose by almost 70%, averaging at 142 dollars per unit.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will stay the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
I believe AI and personalization are the future of work– not only because they save time and make the workplace more efficient, but because they do so, ironically for an algorithmic system, with a human touch. Businesses will be investing in AI algorithms to select, engage, and motivate employees as well as provide personalized benefits. Remote work is here to stay, and companies will have to learn to show employees that they care when they’re not in the same boardroom or even the same country — and that’s where technology comes in. It’s a big part of workforce retention and engagement.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
I’d recommend adjusting their benefit strategies to include wellbeing programs and other types of support that could bolster employees’ overall sense of security. Gifts are an obvious way for companies to show they care for their employees. At the same time, 37% of U.S.-based employees felt “unappreciated” by their employers after receiving a “generic” gift. This is pretty strong evidence that the personalization approach will become increasingly important.
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 believe more people will start looking for flexible schedules, hybrid office culture, a closer sense of connection, and work that supports their inner mission. Fewer employees will see their job as a priority, instead concentrating on other aspects of life, such as family, hobbies, community, and more. For businesses, it will be crucial to focus on productivity and support workers’ motivation by offering flexible hours and a work culture that promotes gratitude.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Work from home means less human connection outside of work. We are social animals. Simply being a part of a group helps people feel accountable and makes them want to stay with the company. Lack of human interaction is one of the reasons behind the “Great Resignation.” And the problem of employee retention is not going away any time soon. To enhance retention, companies will need to use all the tools at their disposal, including gifting. In a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees from Snappy, 59% of respondents said they would be more likely to stay at their job if they received meaningful holiday gifts from their employer.
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?
People are opting out because they are looking for new careers, opening new businesses, or choosing lifestyles that fit them better. Companies simply have to respond to the needs of people looking for more flexibility, better benefits, and a supportive company culture. I believe businesses are ready for positive change. Many big U.S. employers are using our service to provide personalized experiences to their employees, partners, and clients. Last year, we sent out around 40,000 corporate gifts to help strengthen relationships.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
1 — Businesses recognize their workers’ right to travel while working remotely. A few months ago, Airbnb’s gift card was launched and more than 17% of our clients went for it. Also, the travel-related gifts are beating the home or remote-working categories by over 22%.
2 — Personalized AI-powered approach to corporate benefits. Our satisfaction rate increased from 92% to 99.2% in 2021. The biggest reasons, according to the surveys, are that people feel important to their companies (98%) and they feel they are treated well no matter where they are (97.2%).
3 — Companies investing in their workers’ wellbeing. Last holiday season, heart-monitoring mattresses, air purifiers to combat viruses, etc. have been increasingly popular.
4 — Businesses supporting their workers’ need for life experiences. Gifts helping people look good, work out, and travel were also in demand this season.
5 — More gratitude and recognition in the workplace. Businesses recognize their employees’ contributions and show appreciation consistently.
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?
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.