Length of Service with an Employer — as the workforce continues to evolve over the years, the average length of service with a single company continues to decline. This shortened tenure will impact how much training and development an employer may be willing to provide to employees if they believe they may already have one foot out the door.
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 Chad Sorenson.
A leader in the HR industry, Chad Sorenson, president of HR Florida State Council, attributes his success to family, so he understands the importance of supporting employees by allowing them to prioritize their families. Representing over 16,000 individual members, HR Florida State Council is the state affiliate for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and supports SHRM’s mission and initiatives through education. Today, Chad works with companies throughout the Southeast U.S. that range from five to 1,200 employees and focuses on leadership development, manager training, employee performance management and employer compliance, among a range of industries.
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.
Nearly 14 years ago, after helping my then CEO lay me off from my role as Director of Employee Services, I ventured out and started an HR consulting company. I didn’t plan it that way, but through a series of events, fortuitous doors opening and strong encouragement, I have developed a business that focuses on leadership development, employee engagement and employer support. Over the years, I have developed great relationships and helped numerous companies through good and bad times. It feels great when a client says thank you for helping them succeed.
My second experience changed my life forever. At age 15, my son, Sean, died by suicide. Ever since that fateful day in 2016, my perspective on life and relationships changed. I have always said you need to take advantage of the opportunities that come before you. I don’t want to ever say, I wish I would have… And if you are going to build a relationship, you need to go all in. Stop “phoning in” the connection between you and another person. Be there for them and let them be there for you. I have also developed a passion for suicide prevention, whether it is working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, speaking to organizations about the impact of mental health in the workplace, or just listening to someone who needs to talk.
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?
Same — There are certain aspects of the employee relationship that won’t change. The need for individual relationships between employees and their managers is always going to be needed. Without them, there is no personal connection.
Different — Change has been a constant and will only continue to get faster and replicate itself more. Employers need to be more creative to continue to reinvent themselves and always be looking to improve. This is the only way to continue to attract new employees.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Develop a change management strategy and live it. Be ready and expect change to occur, or to make it happen. Don’t fight market forces, drive them.
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?
Because of the speed of change, what employees may hear about through the media as the newest and greatest trend, may only be occurring in 1% of the workplaces, however, employees may expect it to happen in their company tomorrow. Employers need to set expectations with employees and proactively give them a voice in the changes going on around them.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
The “work from home” experience showed us it was possible to push forward when many felt that was not possible. Work from home, hybrid offices, more flexibility were all experiences we went through because we had to, and this should expand our thinking in the future when it comes to developing employee relationship and accommodation strategies.
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?
To work with everyone, we must prioritize the individual. Every employee has different needs based on their circumstances and the workplace needs to proactively establish flexibility and adaptability in every relationship.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I’m excited about the workforce evolving in a way in which employees can tailor their careers to be further fulfilled, which is mutually beneficial for the employer as well. The opportunity to work as a subject matter expert for multiple companies simultaneously or home in on work for one employer allows for individual expertise to have a greater impact for the organization(s) being served. However, I will also acknowledge while this change is positive overall, there are likely some who are hurt by this transition.
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?
Wellness programs must come to the forefront. An emphasis on work/life balance will be part of the conversation in a way it hasn’t been as employees focus on hybrid work environments and work from anywhere arrangements. Additionally, how paid/unpaid time off is presented and able to be used can also amplify the flexible resources and support being offered by employers.
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?
Change is here to stay. Whatever you call it, employers need to ensure their culture includes wellness, flexibility, adaptability to change, and perhaps, acceptance of the natural evolution of the workplace.
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.)
TREND 1 — Length of Service with an Employer — as the workforce continues to evolve over the years, the average length of service with a single company continues to decline. This shortened tenure will impact how much training and development an employer may be willing to provide to employees if they believe they may already have one foot out the door.
TREND 2 — Speed of Change and How Often Companies Reinvent Themselves as Employers — workplaces must continue to evolve to meet the needs of the workforce. We see great examples of how companies are meeting the needs of the available workforce, but we also see examples where companies resist change and begin to fall by the wayside.
TREND 3 — How Companies Change Benefit Offerings to Meet the Varied Expectations of the Workforce — Meeting the benefit needs of the workforce to attract and retain employees has been a challenge, and the future will be no different. Additionally, generational and demographic differences further amplify the reality that one size doesn’t fit all.
TREND 4 — Collaboration — How Hybrid & Remote Work Continues to Change How Employees Work Together — One of the most discussed aspects of how the workplace has changed was the impact on the relationship between co-workers and how collaboration is navigated. Some companies figured out how to keep the creative juices flowing and others continue to struggle.
TREND 5 — The HR Evolution — How the Roles Have to Change to Continue to Meet the Needs of Both the Employer and the Employee — HR has evolved many times since the personnel days, but that evolution is happening faster every year. In addition to managing the company culture, regulatory pressures continue to impact how the traditional HR model changes.
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?
John Wesley said:
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
This has shaped my views and actions over the past 15 years since learning of it. If I get involved in something, I want to go all in. If someone needs help, I want to be there for them. This a foundational aspect of servant leadership. What I have worked on is balancing my desire to help others, while still taking care of myself and my family.
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.
Because of his go big or go home mentality, innovative and inspirational actions, fearless attitude and not ability to not care about others’ perception of him or his actions, and his independent journey to success, breakfast with Elon Musk would be a fascinating experience.
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.