Abundance. We don’t live in a world of scarcity, but a world of abundance. Design practices around abundance rather than scarcity.

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 Candice Elliott.

Candice is a Human Resources Strategist at her company, Fortress and Flourish. She works with business, non-profit and government leaders to create HR systems founded in sustainability, equality and community. She lives with her family on the unceded land of Popeloutchom, home to the Awaswas speaking Uypi Ohlone, recently called Santa Cruz, CA.

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.

The most impactful recent experience was choosing the care of a midwife during my pregnancy and giving birth to my son at home. Through this I learned to rely on the wisdom of my body, to relax into pain and to live in accordance with my own rhythms and the rhythms of my family. This time out of time has helped me to see structures that are part of work that are not in alignment with the needs of most people.

One of the formative experiences of my life happened when I Iived in the Middle East in the mid 2000s. I experienced war first-hand as a civilian and afterward learned how to express anger in a healthy way, how to experience and process PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and that my core desire is to find belonging as a member of my family and community.

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?

In 10–15 years, I expect to see the same struggle between what we “should do” and what we actually desire. The world of work is filled with rules about how things are supposed to be; how CEOs are supposed to run their businesses and how employees are supposed to do their jobs. What I think will change about this is our own sovereignty within that dynamic. I see growing numbers of leaders recognizing how the structures that we currently operate under are not sustainable for them and for their teams and saying, “You know what? We need to do this a different way.”

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

Make space to pause. Find your practices that deeply refill your cup. There is no future for you in your business if you are burnt out and can’t go on. When we keep running on empty, overpowering our body’s wisdom to stop, and just keep pushing and pushing and pushing, eventually we collapse. This is what just happened for so many people. We need to make space for rest, regeneration, and reciprocity. When we do this, we have the resilience to keep going when things are hard. We have the mental capacity to think out of the box and approach challenges in a new way.

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?

Keeping pace with inflation. One of the things that I do is compensation analysis and developing equitable systems of pay. I am seeing a trend where pay increases are not keeping pace with inflation. This means that although people are making more money, they are not able to maintain the standard of living that they had in the past. This is one of the things at the crux of the current churn in the workforce.

The fix for this issue means looking at your goals and values and reworking your business and systems to fit. When you’re the captain of a big ship, you don’t just make a quick left turn. You slow way down to make that turn. I think what employers can do is create time for that slow down, that look into values, and the rest will come. Companies that don’t take this time to change and adapt end up in a weaker strategic position, especially as it relates to their workforce.

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

There are two sides to this coin. First, I’ll talk about the disparity that exists. Many people were never able to work from home because the nature of their work doesn’t permit it. On the other hand, working from home is a great leveler. It allows me as an entrepreneur and mother to attend meetings that I would never be able to go to if they were not streamed. So there is good and there is bad, and our responsibility is to use this shift to create more equity.

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?

The purpose of my work is to achieve the societal shift from extractive to reciprocal relationship in our homes and in our communities (and work is one of those communities). This shift from extractive to reciprocal starts with ourselves. It includes understanding our own trauma responses, where those come from, and in changing our focus from being independent to understanding our interdependence.

None of us exists alone, and all of us are better served when we have a caring and supportive community around us. This is especially true of work culture, which is generally very individualistic, very trauma inducing, and requires us to push through in order to be deserving. This is a core wound for so many of us as children; that we have to behave in a particular way in order to be loved and accepted. Work has to become a place where we are able to be fully ourselves in order for us to live healthier, happier, and more meaningful lives.

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

One of my teachers is Monica Sharma, a physician and epidemiologist who works for the United Nations, and in her program, Leadership for Community Transformation we learned that our work is part of a fractal. My work toward reciprocity is in alignment with other’s work on equity, justice, inclusion, wellness, beauty, and wisdom. These are universal values that we all share. We may not think that we do, but when we talk about these things in our family or our community, pretty much everyone shares these and other values. So when we start our work from our values we share in our work with all the others who are doing the same thing, and this brings us toward the future that we want to see. I really see this work toward reciprocity hit the ground with my clients, and they are my greatest source of optimism.

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?

The pace of mental health, like the pace of postpartum, is out of linear time. Mental health is cyclical and comes in waves. People’s capacity shifts hour by hour, day by day. Starting with training on a foundational understanding of mental health for business owners, managers and employees is a starting point. From there, there are so many ways to go. Each person will have their own preferences. My mental health practices include tarot, ancestral healing, B-12 shots, wholesome food, reading, writing, yoga, somatic therapy, IFS therapy, lymphatic drainage, and asking for help. My preferences come from my own life-long journey of healing. The role that employers can play in this is allowing time and energy for this kind of work.

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?

The overarching message that I hear is, despite all of our best efforts and all sides, this system isn’t working. When a system isn’t working we declare that there is a breakdown. Breakdowns are normal and a part of the cycles of change. Our best minds have been working on this problem and yet, we have just created more problems. This is because our approach is siloed and not connected to all the other systems that are at play.

So, when we think about what a values-aligned workplace is, we start with our organization. We don’t look at some other company and lament what they do. We look into our own practices and how our actions are not in alignment with our values, the paces where we are out of integrity. Being out of integrity happens. When we can see where it is happening, then we have the opportunity to change.

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.)

5 Things I Wish I Learned In HR School

Video Link: https://youtu.be/uV33aS8ecSs

  1. Do what you want. Learn to notice how it feels when you are doing exactly what you want to be doing. Spend as much time doing what you want to be doing as possible.
  2. Unmake yourself. Live in ways that are different from what you think to be true. This is how you will come to understand who you are.
  3. Abundance. We don’t live in a world of scarcity, but a world of abundance. Design practices around abundance rather than scarcity.
  4. Time is cyclical. We think of time as linear, but the things that have come to pass will pass again, and you will learn and relearn lessons your whole life long.
  5. Expect Breakdowns. Breakdowns are relative to each party’s commitment to an outcome. If there was not mutual commitment then there would be no breakdown. The commitment is the path forward.

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?

Our challenge in behalf of the wild soul and our creative spirit is to not merge with any collective, but to distinguish ourselves from those who surround us, building bridges back to them as we choose. . . The collectives we favor with relationships will be those that offer the most support for our soul and our creative life. -Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves

Women Who Run With the Wolves is a wonderful exploration of female archetypes. This particular quote came to me when I was making a transition from working for others to working for myself. It helped me understand that not all relationships are the right fit, to notice when I feel called to build a bridge back and to respond, and to notice when others have chosen to not build a bridge back to me. These words are a barometer that I use to see if the relationships I am investing in are reciprocal ones for me.

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.

There are so many people I would love to share a meal with. My top pick right now would be my teacher in the Tarot and Soul Centered Business, Lindsay Mack. I have learned so much from her over the years.

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?

The best way to stay in touch with me is through my weekly newsletter. Each week I share my experiences with the values-aligned approach to HR and business. http://www.fortressandflourish.com/newsletter-sign-up

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