CHANGE OF SPEED: The rate of change today is unlike anything the world has experienced before, so people must move their mindsets from focusing on the change itself to creating processes and plans that are nimble and agile enough to adapt.

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 Derrick Coleman, Search and Staffing Practice Leader, GHJ.

Derrick has more than 20 years of business experience and is the Practice Leader of GHJ Search and Staffing, GHJ’s recruiting division. Search and Staffing specializes in the placement of accounting and finance professionals into temporary and permanent positions across a broad range of industries. His clients include many of the top organizations across Los Angeles County and throughout the U.S.

Derrick’s responsibilities include managing a fast-paced, successful accounting and finance recruiting division, developing new business, supporting existing clients and managing the internal staffing and recruitment teams.

Derrick also serves as Catalyst for GHJ Foundation’s board of directors and is a Finance Committee Member for the Downtown Women’s Center. Additionally, Derrick currently leads GHJ’s BIPOC Cohort, the Firm’s Employee Resource Group focused on advancing the careers of professionals who are black, indigenous and people of color in the accounting profession.

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?

From the beginning of my career, I have been extremely lucky to have some of the best mentors, sponsors and training, which has certainly shaped my experiences and professional career in corporate America. I was taught how to play the game in my early 20s.

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?

Flexibility will be the hallmark of the future workplace, where the best resources are matched to drive the most optimal outcomes — whether it is via full automation, human-machine collaboration or human experts. Contingent workers will continue to be heavily leveraged as the fluidity of the workplace increases, and they will be relied on to “plug and work” where their expertise can be maximized.

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

The rate of change today is unlike anything we have experienced before, so employers must move their mindset from focusing on the change itself to creating processes and plans that are nimble and agile enough to adapt on the fly. They also need to be okay with throwing out a plan or strategy because too many variables have changed and it is no longer the best option for today.

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?

From my perspective, organizations that want to get their hybrid work model right must create world-class digital experiences that enable both in-person and digital collaboration.

Realizing the full potential of a remote/hybrid model will require leaders to adopt new mindsets, define behavioral and working norms and engage in two-way dialogue with employees as they navigate this change.

I would also project the four-day workweek will go from pilot to permanent. More companies will adopt the four-day workweek (and other once-fringe working schedules) to meet employees’ demands for rewriting the playbook on employee experience — and making work fit their lifestyles, instead of the other way around.

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

Hybrid working is here to stay — and employees want a better digital experience. Some companies have adopted a work-from-home policy permanently. I do not see this changing, and if anything, it will be considered a best practice and expectation for most job seekers. Companies must learn to adapt or will miss out on top talent who are looking for that level of flexibility. We are already seeing backlash in the marketplace on companies pushing to move people back into the office fulltime. Providing a seamless digital experience for those who are remote will be key to maintaining engagement and collaboration as well as streamline work processes in this hybrid environment.

We have 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?

Lack of progress with diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility (DEIA) and belonging will not be accepted. With social injustice brought to the forefront, many organizations made public DEIA promises, but there is still more to be done. Companies will need to put the time, energy and resources behind these initiatives to make sure these are not empty promises and real progress is made in these areas.

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

Just like negativity, optimism is contagious. That is why it is key to hire those with an optimistic outlook. Look for initial signals of excitement, a sense of purpose and an awareness of why they want to work at your company. Remember that most new hires are coming from another exciting, well-paying job. They should be joining your company to do more, transform more and innovate more.

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 most important thing employers can do to support mental well-being in the workforce is to offer mental wellness care as part of employee health benefits. Additional benefits, such as wellness programs, breakrooms, social programs and fitness centers, also help encourage mental well-being. Also creating a culture than recognizes the importance of mental health is key to making sure employees feel they can use these resources without repercussions.

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?

Company culture should move from “culture fit” to “culture add.” The best thing about culture add in comparison to culture fit is the diversity and inclusion it provides. Culture fit was all about finding people as similar to the manager as possible. However, culture add focuses on finding people who share the same value sets but nothing else. This pivot helps with innovation due to creating diversity of thought and diminishing “group think” that can stifle creativity.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. PERMANENT FLEXIBILITY. We have been on a journey of workplace flexibility for some time, but the definition of what that means is evolving with the workplace. Flexibility in the future is not just our own — working from home, for example — but also how employers scale teams up and down to reflect their goals. In the future, success will depend on our ability to remain flexible at all times.
  2. WORKING WITH A PURPOSE: In the future, people do not just want to work for companies. They want to work for companies that have a clear purpose. Employees are looking for companies that have a strong sense of purpose that resonates with their personal values.
  3. PLATFORM FOR TALENT: Talent today wants reasons to join, and stay, with an organization — such as feeling supported in terms of career as well as personal growth, feeling like they fit in the company and being able to align with the company’s culture and mission. Additionally, talent platforms will play an increasing role, but companies also need skilled recruiters who are digitally empowered to make faster, more accurate matches, maintain a sense of the big picture and guide on issues such as diversity, inclusion and compliance.
  4. CHANGE OF SPEED: The rate of change today is unlike anything the world has experienced before, so people must move their mindsets from focusing on the change itself to creating processes and plans that are nimble and agile enough to adapt.
  5. DIGITAL FROM THE INSIDE OUT: To realize the return on investment, digital must be infused into the corporate culture, which will better ensure its impact — and support — of the greater good.

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 quote is by Maya Angelou: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Choosing to step out of my comfort zone and be more courageous makes me a more well-rounded person and broadens my experiences in life.

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 U.S., 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.

I would say Elon Musk. He is an innovator who has changed the world. He is not only an entrepreneur, but he has also influenced the world on a humanitarian scale.

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?

I can be reached by email, [email protected], GHJ’s website and LinkedIn.

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