…One of the most impactful strategies we’ve implemented is a “no email after 6pm policy.” The rationale behind this was to help our employees find work life balance by eliminating the inbox anxiety after hours. We all know that one email can spiral into a plethora of tasks and it’s not healthy for us to constantly feel pressure to be “on.” Since we made this policy official, we’ve seen a positive shift in employee morale and our business has not suffered by taking a few hours off email.

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 Charlie Saffro.

Charlie has over 14 years of direct recruiting experience within the Logistics, Transportation and Supply Chain space and started CS Recruiting from the ground up over a decade ago. Today, she leads a team of over 35 and manages a multi-million dollar organization. As the President and Founder of CS Recruiting, she focuses on making meaningful connections to empower others to discover their full potential. Charlie has worked with many small to medium-sized businesses, as well as with Fortune 50 companies to help them identify the right talent for their organizational needs. Clients have included Third Party Logistics providers (3PL’s), Asset Based providers, Shippers (Manufacturers and Distributors) and Vendors to the industry (transportation technology/fleet solutions). CS Recruiting’s goal is to partner with clients and candidates to develop long-lasting relationships and make appropriate and time sensitive career matches. Charlie’s team of dedicated recruiters have experience filling positions of all levels; including C Level and Executive positions, Management roles and Independent Contributor seats.

Charlie is a dedicated yogi and encourages her clients and team to practice mindfulness in the workplace and beyond. She is also the mother of three boys and active in her community, volunteering with local organizations to support and empower females.

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.

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, I was raised with a strong work ethic and passion for making an impact by connecting people. Like many, I found my true calling when I least expected it and essentially “fell” into recruiting and can now look back to realize it was exactly what I was supposed to do all along.

I have a nontraditional story as to how I became a business owner, as it was not part of my plan or something I was specifically seeking. I am a self-taught recruiter and spent several years in corporate recruiting for my husband’s Logistics and Transportation technology company. When my company sold, I was pregnant with my third son and took on some freelance recruiting projects to stay busy. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had more business opportunity than I could handle, and it was a sink or swim moment for me and the future of the business. I loved what I was doing, and the demand was there, so I brought on my first employee who happened to be my husband. From there, the business has grown and scaled, and today we are recognized as one of the top recruiting firms in our industry today with a team of 40 focused on making career matches.

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 see two major shifts happening now that I believe are a prediction of what the future workforce will look like. Fortunately, these are positive changes and are closely connected as they both focus on the employee experience, which is something I’m passionate about.

First, I believe that while work will always be work, companies are starting to humanize the way they do business, and the positive effects are showing through strong cultures and happy, loyal employees. I am seeing companies care more about work/life balance and leaders are recognizing that their team will be most productive and committed to they support work life balance and put the right policies and processes in place to prevent burnout.

By treating employees as individuals and giving them the attention and recognition they deserve, companies gain leverage to hire new talent because they have a culture of retention and employee loyalty which is a huge competitive advantage.

The shift to a hybrid/remote workforce goes hand in hand with the humanization of business and it’s exciting to see so many companies finally be open to work from home models. When companies trust their employees, they are more apt to offer flexibility in terms of work hours and environments. Employees with flexibility feel empowered and it’s proven that this leads to more productivity and a enhances a team’s desire to succeed.

From a hiring standpoint, I am hopeful that the virtual work trend is here to stay. Companies that require their team to physically be in-office are limiting their pipeline to only local talent. Companies that are open to a remote workforce can truly secure the best person for the job by removing location requirements. If it’s important enough for a company to hire the best, they will figure out what’s needed to succeed in a virtual environment.

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

The secret to future-proofing any business is to have a strong company culture. Companies that focus on their people will always come out first and the benefits of a strong culture are unlimited.

There is no doubt that the hardest part of running a business is hiring and retaining employees. When a company puts their team and culture first, they generally see high retention and committed employees, which makes it easier to recruit more like-minded people. People want to work for companies that trust them and appreciate them, and companies must prioritize their people to keep up with the talent war.

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?

Employees want flexibility and it’s up to company leadership to hire the right people to provide flexibility, which essentially implies trust.

The biggest indicator of work flexibility comes down to the work environment and if employees will be required to be in-office or if they are free to WFA (“Work From Anywhere”).

When remote work is not an option, (i.e. hospitality industry, on-site work) companies must instill the right values to drive and promote a people-first workforce.

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

A silver lining of the pandemic is that 2020 showed many companies that it was possible to run their business efficiently and effectively with entire teams working from home.

Prior to the pandemic, most companies had an office space and many believed the water cooler banter and ping pong tables defined their “culture.” When we had no choice but to work from home, companies adjusted and fortunately, many leaders made the commitment to pivoting to this virtual model.

Once it became evident that we’d be home for a while, companies put processes and technologies in place to keep their business running and many of them recognized benefits that weren’t there before. The pivot to WFH showed companies that it was possible to have a connected team and strong culture without a physical office. Companies that prioritized their team members’ safety, mental health and overall happiness are the companies who can now successfully embrace virtual work as our new normal and future.

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?

Everything comes down to treating people like humans and providing flexible work opportunities that translate into trusting relationships. The pandemic forced so many leaders to be vulnerable and it has taught us that empathy and compassion for others is not a weakness, but rather one of the most important leadership traits.

We are all so much more than our title and the work we do and companies that treat employees as a number will ultimately struggle while companies that take a human-first approach will continue to rise above.

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

As a recruiter, many might assume that we want to work with companies that have high turnover, so we have more jobs to fill. However, my philosophy is quite different — we want to work with businesses that align with our values and put their people first to create a loyal workforce. Companies with strong retention have a competitive advantage and are in the best position for growth. At CS Recruiting, we love to work with clients who need to hire because of growth, not turnover.

I am optimistic that the “Great Resignation” had a positive impact in the business world. This workforce movement showed companies that they are nothing without their strong performers and people must be their priority. It is exciting to see companies that are putting their team members first and these are the organizations that are retaining talent and will continue to grow.

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 the most impactful strategies we’ve implemented is a “no email after 6pm policy.” The rationale behind this was to help our employees find work life balance by eliminating the inbox anxiety after hours. We all know that one email can spiral into a plethora of tasks and it’s not healthy for us to constantly feel pressure to be “on.” Since we made this policy official, we’ve seen a positive shift in employee morale and our business has not suffered by taking a few hours off email.

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 am personally coining this next phase ‘The Great Opportunity’ as I see it as an opportunity for both employers and employees.

For employees, it is a candidate market right now, meaning the supply of jobs is plentiful and the demand for talent is higher than ever. This imbalance has created a huge opportunity for people to take advantage of the market and find the company and position that best suits their needs and recognizes their value.

For employers, this has been a wakeup call and companies have had no choice but to put their employees first to survive. With the talent war at its peak, companies must value their performers by investing in their development, offering career path opportunities, and paying them what they’re worth.

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. Is the ‘Great Resignation’ now the ‘Great Opportunity?’.
  2. How will the virtual work movement affect the commercial real estate market and future of the industry?
  3. Leading with the Heart: Feature (female) leaders that have achieved success by leading with their heart.
  4. Making ‘Virtual Work’ Work (provide tips and examples of how companies have come out stronger post pandemic because of WFH policy shifts.
  5. Retaining Top Performers: What it really takes to keep your best employees happy.

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?

I have a lot of quotes that I’ve hung onto but the one I’m hooked on right now is around integrity and we’ve been using this quote internally to drive our passion for putting people first.

“Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” -C.S. Lewis

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.

Jeff Weiner, Former CEO of LinkedIn. I am a LinkedIn junkie and attribute a ton of our company’s success to being active on the platform at the right time.

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?

Find me on LinkedIn or visit our website!

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