Embrace Flexibility — Employees are seeking opportunities that allow them to choose where and how they work, with no signs of stopping in the future. As I’ve mentioned, we’ve continued to evolve our flexibility strategy at BDO because we know it’s a critical business driver. Flexibility also requires and breeds trust, a belief that’s foundational in the sharing of ideas, openness to change, and loyalty and accountability among teams.
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 Cathy Moy.
Cathy Moy joined BDO USA, LLP in July 2002 as a partner with significant experience assisting middle-market clients. In July 2014, Cathy became the firm’s first Chief People Officer, where she ensures that BDO’s policies, practices and brand promise are consistent with its culture and true to its core purpose of helping people thrive every day. Throughout her tenure in the CPO role, Cathy has championed and implemented strategies that are helping BDO lead the profession, and the middle market, around building a purpose-driven business.
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.
Some of my most transferable skills date all the way back to being a resident assistant at Boston College. Learning how to navigate interpersonal dynamics is deeply valuable, especially when you’re in the business of people. Another formative experience was that of being a mother to three daughters. Motherhood enabled me early in my career to understand the support all working parents need from their corporate leaders. This type of support became especially important during the pandemic.
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 believe purpose will continue to be foundational for an organization to achieve the type of success that comes with employees who embrace and see their place in the company vision. In fact, looking ahead, it will become even more essential as we see a larger share of people entering the workforce who are defined by how their values inform where and why they work. Going hand-in-hand with purpose, corporate culture will continue to rise as a top business strategy, but only if it exists beyond the paper on which it’s written. Now and in the future, culture needs to be a living, breathing, equitable experience for all professionals — demonstrated from the top down and the bottom up. If an organization’s focus is to unlock the secret to a successful work culture, authenticity is key.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Leaders must invest in their company’s culture and build trust with their people. That translates into something I call culture equity — or tangible value that will build resiliency even in the face of challenging times. Culture equity can help companies traverse moments of crisis. It allows leaders and team members to lean into a trusted and common foundation, knowing they can rely on one another to weather a storm. Importantly, however, culture equity is something that is built and earned over time through investment into your people and their well-being.
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 biggest gap between employers and employees that we’re seeing in the market is the conversation around return-to-office environments. Some employers may want everyone in the office, whereas many employees want to have more flexibility in where, when and how they work. At BDO, we’ve grounded our flexibility strategy in trust. We are listening to our professionals and making decisions based on what works best for them, their teams and their clients. They’ve demonstrated that they are not only able to meet, but exceed, their professional commitments and responsibilities in our flexible work environment.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how the world views work, and I believe this shift has made businesses and their people more resilient. At BDO, it reaffirmed our commitment to fostering a flexible work environment and we further evolved our strategy, allowing BDO to better meet the needs of its people and clients. Going forward, I believe flexibility will no longer be a “nice to have” perk, but rather a key business driver and a necessary aspect of candidate attraction and retention.
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?
At BDO, we want to make business more human. Our professionals are parents, friends and caretakers. They are artists and athletes and a number of other things, including being a BDO professional. We want to be able to give them the flexibility — and the trust — to make work and life fit together. I don’t want to speak for society at large, but our approach to support work that works for all hinges on: executives who lead with empathy, adoption of the latest and most efficient technologies, diversity of thought and experiences across teams, and clear and succinct communication in an inundated and overloaded environment.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
People are rightly demanding more from their employers, which is making leaders across industries examine how they can better support their workforce. There are many contributing factors: ongoing public health and economic stressors, to generational values shifts, to simply seeking more purpose out of work. People are looking for alignment between their personal values and the values of the organizations where they work, and it’s driving change. The leaders who embrace this change will have the opportunity to create a more sustainable and resilient business, and that is exciting.
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?
Mental health and well-being cannot be viewed as collateral; they must be considered a top priority for cultivating a strong corporate culture which will in turn enable a successful business. The importance of mental wellness cannot be understated. Many have faced challenges during the pandemic — when, more than ever, the lines between professional and personal were blurred. Employers must create an inclusive culture and provide all their people with the right tools to help them invest in their personal well-being. With that in mind, BDO increased the number of mental health and wellness resources available — including an employee assistance program, access to emotional support, and recently introduced mental fitness trainings designed to teach brain optimization skills necessary for resilience, focus, calm and energy in daily life. We also added a Day to Recharge and Reflect to the calendar — now in its third year — and asked our professionals to spend the day doing whatever was most purposeful for them and their families.
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 believe the Great Reevaluation is a bit more accurate; employees are searching for a corporate experience that resonates more deeply with their personal values and professional aspirations. Flexibility is imperative, but it is also part of a larger cultural framework that can influence operations. The greater evolution needs to include empathy, diversity, belonging, trust and opportunities for growth. Leaders at every level have two skills at their disposal that can make all the difference: listening and mentoring. In a competitive marketplace, I believe that our ability to remain open to feedback, responsive to changing workplace dynamics, and intentional in helping people 1:1 to achieve their dreams will position BDO as an employer of choice for our people and a provider of choice for our clients.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Embrace Flexibility — Employees are seeking opportunities that allow them to choose where and how they work, with no signs of stopping in the future. As I’ve mentioned, we’ve continued to evolve our flexibility strategy at BDO because we know it’s a critical business driver. Flexibility also requires and breeds trust, a belief that’s foundational in the sharing of ideas, openness to change, and loyalty and accountability among teams.
- Adopt Digital Transformation — It is necessary to continue developing digital capabilities that enable success for the company and its employees. Companies that embrace digital adoption will be better prepared for future crises, more agile to respond in real time and best positioned to leverage a constrained talent pool for greatest impact.
- Support Employee Well-being — For employers, the last two years have underscored the importance of mental health and well-being. Business has never been more human. A large contribution to future-proofing an organization and planning for employee retention in this environment is accessible and empathetic leadership. As the business world continues to embrace empathy and more deeply understands the value of prioritizing mental health in the workplace, this will only continue to grow in importance.
- Foster Diversity, Equity & Inclusion — Companies that are equipped with a broad range of voices and perspectives have a better opportunity to make more informed business decisions. To further an organization’s DEI mission in an impactful way, leaders must authentically see and listen to their people and embrace a DEI approach that provides the right resources and opportunities to professionals at all levels. Transparency around DEI efforts will also be increasingly important to all of a company’s stakeholders, including its people.
- Act Sustainably — Business leaders who prioritize ESG practices bolster resilience and position themselves to better adapt under ever-changing market conditions. This big-picture thinking prioritizes long-term stability over short-term financial reward and will create lasting value for all stakeholders.
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?
My favorite life lesson is from Mother Teresa. Her quote, “Do It Anyway,” resonates deeply with me. We must make our choices with purpose and conscience, untainted by the reactions of others.
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.
If only Betty White was still with us! I would surely benefit from her incredible combination of wit and wisdom. Of those blessed to still walk with us, I might invite Brené Brown to break bread as she is passionately trying to help leaders find the human center of business.
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.