Reinforce and Respect. Strengthen your team’s resolve by contributing to their lives and communities, celebrate their individuality while emphasizing the importance of being part of a team that is building something bigger than any one individual.

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 Genevieve Piturro.

Genevieve Piturro is an author, TEDx speaker and leadership and team consultant, sharing lessons from her journey captured in her award-winning book, Purpose, Passion and Pajamas: How to Transform Your Life, Embrace the Human Connection and Lead with Meaning. A successful television marketing executive, Genevieve dramatically changed the direction of her life and found her true purpose when a six-year-old girl’s question changed her life forever and she jumped off the corporate ladder. Piturro founded the non-profit, Pajama Program, which this year, celebrates its 20th anniversary, having delivered more than 7 MILLION magical gifts of new pajamas and new books to children through their 63 chapters across the U.S.

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.

20 years ago, a little girl in an emergency shelter in New York City asked me a simple question that rocked my world. I was reading to children there when I saw them go to bed in their soiled, ripped and tight clothes. That scene broke my heart. I brought pajamas the next time and a little girl asked me,

“Miss, what are pajamas?”

With equal parts fear and moxie, after having spent 12 years of my life climbing the corporate ladder in the entertainment business only to reach the vice president of marketing rung, I jumped off and started the national nonprofit, Pajama Program.

Over two decades, we have provided more than seven million pairs of pajamas and books to children in the U.S. and Puerto Rico through Pajama Program’s 63 local chapters.

Having grown Pajama Program from the ground up (I didn’t even know what a 501c3 was), I worked knowing I had to swim, because sinking wasn’t an option. The lessons learned from past mentors guided my start, but I soon forged a whole new set of standards because now I had a Purpose.

This meant learning how to communicate that Purpose to those who would help me build this organization; ensuring the Purpose of Pajama Program aligned with their own Purposes, otherwise they would lose interest and heart; learning to hire the right people for the jobs we needed filled; inspiring and motivating employees to make my goals their own goals; growing our bottom line every year; leading us through (and beyond) The Great Recession of 2007; watching what brought teams together, and defining what could ultimately drive them apart.

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?

Beyond salaries and titles, real purpose will always connect people to their organizations. That’s true now and will be in 10–15 years. What will be different is how our leaders will inspire their employees and teams to lead with an aligned purpose.

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

Take the time to understand what motivates your employees. Individuals are motivated differently, and it takes time and patience to find out what will move each employee and each team toward your goal, and how you can support them in getting there with you.

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 is occurring now, during this adjustment time. We have to understand that employees and employers are starting out with their “must have” lists that often conflict. If we can all enter our new work setting with some flexibility on even the most steadfast of our “must haves,” that’s a good start.

There are pillars of my Purpose ACER program which together create a strategy to reconcile this gap. There are no “must haves” at the start which helps to dissolve defenses on both sides. The Pillars of the Purpose ACER Program include:

Purpose. Beyond salaries and titles, real purpose strongly connects people to their organizations.

Attract and Align. Entice the best people to join your team by selecting prospective employees whose purpose and goals parallel your company’s own set of values and objectives.

Communicate and Connect. Link everyone in your organization together by clearly conveying your company’s purpose, as they are your most powerful network connection to the outside world.

Engage and Encourage. Captivate your team’s hearts and minds with a nurturing and inspired work culture filled with personal growth and development experiences.

Reinforce and Respect. Strengthen your team’s resolve by contributing to their lives and communities, celebrate their individuality while emphasizing the importance of being part of a team that is building something bigger than any one individual.

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

Working from Home is here to stay. The balance between that and in-office work will vary and will be based on a comfortable split decided by the employer and the right fit of employees hired by the organization moving forward. The morale of all organizations influences its bottom line and when the “working from home/working in the office” balance is comfortable for all, teams will rally to grow the bottom line.

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?

A sense of cooperation and collaboration is missing in businesses today, but those organizations with Purpose are beating their competition. When your company’s Purpose aligns with the Purpose of your workforce, there is a critical connection made that can achieve extraordinary progress.

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

Sometimes we must fall apart as a group in order to rebuild a healthier workplace of individuals who feel more empowered in our own actions, and stronger as a team working for each other.

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?

I think those ideas will come from the employees and employers in open discussions. There’s not a one-size-fits-all anymore for work cultures and that dialogue will turn out unique strategies that work for that specific organization.

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?

Messages to leaders: Ask more questions of your employees and potential hires. Their answers will help you create and sustain a healthy culture.

Company cultures need to embrace and respect that purpose is vital for all of us. Leaders need to share the purpose of their organization with every team and employee, and look for ways employees will find meaning in their work which aligns with this purpose.

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. The “P” word is changing from “pivot” to “purpose.” We’ve all come through these two years looking for “purpose” and now we’re going for it. So many reports of why employees are dissatisfied with how we worked prior to the pandemic reveal that too many of us worked without a sense of meaning from it.
  2. Corporate culture is coming back as a healthy component of our work life. Job seekers are asking potential employers new questions — questions about work-life balance, purpose, and impacting the greater good. Leaders are re-designing the culture of their organizations with these questions in mind.
  3. Marrying business and purpose with employee retention and satisfaction is good for the bottom line. More and more we’re hearing from employees about how their leaders are connecting with them and asking them about their pandemic experiences. Opening up that conversation is a good way for leaders to learn where their employees are personally and professionally now, and how they want to work together moving forward.
  4. Redesigning our 9-to-5 will continue to include not only our personal purpose, and our own needs, but also the goals and needs of others. This cooperation is what so many are taking about now in our professional networking group.
  5. More and more topics are being discussed openly now in various forums. And we’re finally realizing that in the human connection is great power to communicate from our hearts, share our experiences and change things together for the better.

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?

“It’s not the power of one that changes things, it’s the power of ONE-ANOTHER that moves mountains and moves people.”

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.

Many years ago, Oprah Winfrey had me as a guest on her show. I’d like to thank her for sharing my story to help all of us recognize and share our PURPOSE.

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?

[email protected]

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