More effective communication systems will emerge between employees and their organization leaders bring management and employees in greater alignment between the interests of the employee and the needs of the organization. Structures facilitating dialogue between managers and employee on shared interests and management of differences will become the testing ground for preparing for and managing change. Scheduled face-to-face meeting to convey information will be an artifact of passed organization, replaced by more sophisticated electronic communication technologies. Face-to-face meeting will be organized around solving problems, exploring innovative solutions and forecasting potential internal change requirements necessary to support the strategic direction of the organization.

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 John Cascone.

Dr. John Cascone has been a Senior Vice President at FlexHR since 2005. During his tenure he has served as an HR consultant to numerous CEOs and Presidents of small and medium size companies in the United States and abroad. His primary areas of specialization include, Executive and Management Development, Negotiation and Strategic Planning, Capacity-Building and Corporate Compliance.

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.

I am part of the “baby boomer” generation and came of age during the 1960s influenced by strong family values, with a commitment to education and learning, a respect for the values and contribution of people to make a difference in their lives. I have been guided by listening carefully to the desires and aspirations of those individuals I have worked with and have been an influence in my career. I have found these commitments and values to serve me well as an executive in both private and public organizations, a university educator and management consultant to CEOs.

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 the future, work will still be done by people who will work in organizations that return value to them in meeting their financial, social, career development and work satisfaction needs. Workforce tools, technology, deployments, and structures will be in constant change requiring organization to adapt quickly and efficiently to stay abreast of a rapid evolving competitive landscape. The greatest difference in organizations of the future will be quality and agility of its leadership corps. The workforce of the future will be younger, educated, culturally diverse and vocal than our current crop of employees. The great challenge facing organization leaders of the future is to effectively manage the multi-varied workforce to keep competent employees familiar with and competent in executing the organization’s business. Specifically, retention of qualified employees will challenge the competency of organization leaders.

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

Stay connected to your employees. Learn their interests and aspirations and, to the extent possible, link organization goals to their work and career interests. Keep an eye on technological developments that could potentially impact business operations and prepare your workforce for proactive rather than reactive engagement with technological change. Arm your manager corps with the interpersonal competencies needed to successfully engage and develop the employees to ensure quality employee retention.

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?

Employers should periodically review their compensation structure to ensure competitive salary ranges and bonus structures offered to employees. Beyond that, employers should, but often do not, consider other work incentives programs such as showcasing work, refocusing performance reviews from work appraisal to employee development, reengineering workforce deployment to increase productivity and employee satisfaction, and mentoring to support succession planning programs. Showcasing work and refocusing performance reviews can close the gap quickly while reengineering workforce deployment and succession planning will require a more long-term perspective.

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

Work from Home experience will have a lasting impact on work of the future. It is one of the reengineering challenges facing organization leadership today and in the future. Work/Life balance is currently and for the foreseeable future will be a primary interest and desire of the 21st century workforce. Differentiating the type of work, employee eligibility, work performance and productivity monitoring systems, employer liability issues, communication requirements and systems among others will be the issues and problems facing organization leaders. There will be new technologies that will come online, in Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Communication Artificial Intelligence Platforms [CAIP] that will aid and facilitate remote/office communication but will have the concomitant challenges of privacy protection risk management issues.

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?

Globalization is the greatest societal force that will impact the future of work for the remainder of the 21st century. The recent pandemic is evidence of how globalization affected the health of the world’s population. While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can be clearly seen on businesses, healthcare, job security and government, globalization also has had its impact on trade, consumer goods, industry, immigration, and social polarization all of which has and will continue to have an impact on our workforce. Our workforce is becoming more culturally diverse, differential in its expectations for job satisfaction. Employee retention will rest more on organization values, willingness to mentor the employee for career growth, and corporate social responsibility rather than loyalty to the organization and personal monetary compensation.

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

The new Millennial Generation of workers entering the workforce will rewrite the rules governing the management of work in the 21st century. The focus of work will be on work outcomes not on work processes. The younger worker will place more trust and loyalty in people that mentor them, help them learn and achieve their life aspirations rather than on organizations goals and purpose. Work/life balance will become a priority, challenging managers to think out-of-the-box to retain competent workers. They will value diversity in the workplace, the organizations’ commitment to social responsibility, innovative technology to help them do their job better and collaboration with peers in the workplace. In short, the value of work and the factors promoting motivation in the workforce will change for the better dragging my fellow boomer managers kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

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?

Managers in organization must first recognize that worker mental health and wellbeing are as important and critical to the success of the enterprise as is competent skills, fair compensation, career growth and bottom-line profitability. Strategies to consider are [1] let employees know that the management of stress and employee mental health is important to the employee’s and the organization’s success, [2] train managers to diagnose and engage the early warning signs of workplace stress exhibited by the employees reporting to them, [3] Help manager know what stress-related mental health problems to address and what problems should be referred to mental health professionals, [4] recognize and celebrate work well done and where possible showcase exceptional work, [5] stress reduction engagement strategies are always helpful including, time away from work, frequent breaks, meditation exercises and EPA assistance, and [6] above all, keep managers’ stress reduction assistance to employees confidential.

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 COVID pandemic has shaken organizations to its core with the realization that our society is not immune to global influences that affect our daily lives and the organization’s operations. The realization that organizations must learn to adapt and do so quickly in responding to future crises is palpable. Words like “The Great Reevaluation” herald the awaking of this reality and organization leaders are wise to consider how their organizations should prepare their workforce to adapt quickly to potential external crises that can impact their operations. Organization values should be revisited to ensure that they include statements that incorporates the organization’s commitment to maintain vigilance against environmental influence that can affect the wellbeing of the organization and its employees. It also should include a commitment to work with employees to facilitate communication of their concerns and the actions the company will take to address them.

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. More effective communication systems will emerge between employees and their organization leaders bring management and employees in greater alignment between the interests of the employee and the needs of the organization. Structures facilitating dialogue between managers and employee on shared interests and management of differences will become the testing ground for preparing for and managing change. Scheduled face-to-face meeting to convey information will be an artifact of passed organization, replaced by more sophisticated electronic communication technologies. Face-to-face meeting will be organized around solving problems, exploring innovative solutions and forecasting potential internal change requirements necessary to support the strategic direction of the organization.
  2. The greater challenge for leaders will be to retain quality employees not to recruit them. Too much time, money and effort invested in recruiting new employees that stay with the organization for two or three years then leave just when the investment made in the employee begins to return value to the organization. There will be a shift away from investing dollars in recruiting new employees to investing dollars in retaining and developing employees. This trend is clearly in evidence as we are living through the post pandemic era. Organizations are having trouble in recruiting employees they had to let go due to the pandemic and getting them back to work. People are reevaluating their interest in returning to a workplace that provides them nothing more than an unsatisfactory job. They are considering other options such as working from home, opportunities to develop new skills, seeking better paying jobs or not working at all. We only must examine the service industries to see the emergence of this trend. Food service, hospitality, and health are particularly clear indicators or this trend.
  3. Work/life balance will increasingly become a mainstay in the lexicon of Best Management Practice. It is the primary motivation-driven factor of the millennial generation workforce. Work/Life balance will shape management practice that create work reengineering structures and processes to support worker accountability and productivity, examine innovative ways and means to develop employees and grow capacity for the organization. Understand and responding to the differential needs of the employees and increasing employee efficacy and performance will rest on effective management practice of first line managers and supervisors. Ensuring the competency of first line supervisors in managing work/life balance of employee reporting to them will be one of the important challenges of organization leaders.
  4. Managing cultural diversity has been part of the language and spirit if not always the practice of organization for several decades. The trend toward promoting cultural diversity in all sectors of the organization will continue but coupled with the emphasis on diversity of ideas, values, work styles and ethics operating under clearly defined standards of accountability and outcome performance. The trend toward diversity recognizes that people approach their work responsibilities in different ways at a pace calibrated to what they perceive as the best way to apply their efforts and skills to the tasks assigned to them. The quality standards of work output and outcomes are non-negotiable how those standards are met, and outcomes achieved are negotiable. Management tools and processes available to help employees achieve work performance standards while promoting flexibility on how work is performed are supervision, mentoring, coaching, training, progressive discipline, corrective action planning and if necessary, separation from employment.
  5. The devastating effects of the pandemic on organizations have reawakened the interest in monitoring environmental influences to forecast and moderate the negative impact on organization operations. Informed organization leaders recognize that the COVID 19 experience is not a one-off occurrence and there are other environmental crises in our future. The prudent management trend is to have plans in place to allow the organization to adapt as quickly as possible with communication mechanism and changes necessary to moderate the impact of the crisis on the organization and its employees. As organizations have business continuation plans in place in the wake of a weather event, a similar plan will be needed in the event of a significant loss of employee due to a health or similar crisis.

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?

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It has always fascinated me that we continue to make the same mistakes yet fail to change what we do and still expect a different result. I have committed myself never to subscribe to that insanity.

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.

I would welcome an opportunity to have breakfast with Jeff Bezos. Since Amazon’s employee turnover rate is the highest in the country, I would like to know how he plans to sustain the growth of the company for the remainder of this century when the trends are clear that employees are expecting more from the company’s the work for than just a salary and job.

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?

By email at [email protected] or by cell phone 404 372 9852.

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