More automation: lack of available labor will lead to creative innovations that provide alternative solutions for a scarce labor force. Additionally, employers in the industries hardest hit by the pandemic and the Great Resignation will also look to mitigate the need on workers through technological investment, such as automation and robots.
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 Jean Tien. With over 20 years of experience in corporate, Jean is passionate about empowering and supporting other Executive Moms who are ready to up-level their success without the hustle and overwhelm. She is the creator and coach of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Method™, which is her proprietary system that helps others find the time and space to finally enjoy their success without guilt or fear.
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.
Thank you so much for having me today, Karen.
Growing up in an Asian household, my parents were very strict when it came to enforcing a respect for authority in our upbringing. My parents taught me that respect for authority meant that I should listen and execute but never disagree. To disagree meant that I was being disrespectful and disobedient. Growing up, I did what I was told (most of the time), and then got in trouble for the other times I dissented.
My fear of sharing honest feedback persisted, as I entered the workforce, until one day, I was in a meeting with the new head of our team at the time. Someone at the meeting had asked her for her opinion on a situation. When she responded, it soon became clear that she didn’t have all the facts. No one stopped her so I stepped in to provide her with the missing information. I was so nervous and remember how softly I spoke so as not to “anger” her, but she wasn’t angry. In fact, my manager told me how impressed she was that I had the courage to step in and redirect her in front of everyone.
That was the turning point for me in my career. It was then that I knew what I needed to do to stand out and build my brand within the organization I worked.
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?
We are already catching a glimpse of the future of work, including the workforce and workplace. In fact, Goldman Sachs is the perfect example of how both are changing. Recently, Goldman Sachs announced that they are re-implementing a “5–0” work schedule (5 days in the office and 0 days at home). This was a bold move considering most of Goldman’s competitors, including JP Morgan, have continued to provide a hybrid work environment for their employees.
In response to the new work schedule mandate, the NY Post recently reported that junior bankers have threatened to quit over the demands that they show up at the office 5 days a week. Employees have complained that the firm is not aligned with their “people first” values especially when their attendance is tracked by senior management. Ultimately, the disgruntled junior employees are now looking to leave the firm for greener pastures, including a flexible work arrangement, should Goldman’s management enforce the “5–0” schedule.
Goldman’s example is just the beginning. Employees’ mindset and expectations have evolved. The days of “money first” is shifting. Employees are looking for more than just a paycheck — they want an organization that appreciates them and practices what it preaches. Employees want to be part of the organization in more meaningful ways than just skilled labor. It’s time for employers to shift their focus away from the numbers game that has dominated the workplace. What we used to consider as “benefits”, such as flexible work arrangements, will become the standard for organizations who are looking to retain top talent.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
It’s time to take a “people first” approach. Look at the organization from both top down and bottoms up. Talk to employees at all levels and within all different sub-groups of the organization and see where there is a misalignment of values. Too often, the message doesn’t trickle down far enough or out wide enough so that everyone benefits from the organization’s efforts to create a positive work environment.
Then, listen. Truly listen, with an open mind, and assess what the organization is willing to do to support its employees. Whatever it is, the organization must operate with integrity and honesty.
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?
When the dust settles, we’ll see that certain professions and industries will continue to require employees to work in the office (at least in the near future). In the industries where the Great Resignation hit the hardest, employers will either have to pay up or find an alternative solution (for example, automation and Artificial Intelligence). Practically, it will require a combination of both strategies.
While the Great Resignation hasn’t hit all industries the same, post-pandemic gaps between employee and employer in the industries that provide for more flexible work arrangements are similar to those that do not. In a job market that is leaning more employee-friendly these days, employees aren’t willing to compromise their mental health and personal well-being for their jobs anymore. They know they’re in the driver’s seat and are willing to find an employer that provides them with an opportunity to work in alignment with their social values and beliefs, even if it is at the expense of a bigger paycheck.
Ultimately, the strategy to reconcile these gaps are simple: put employees first. Give your employees a sense of pride and community as a part of your organization. If that’s not possible, then find an alternative solution. Think outside of the box. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try and find what works for your organization.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
The pandemic was an eye-opener for many who believed that working from home wouldn’t work for their business and / or certain job functions. Before the pandemic, employers required employees to be in the office “5–0”. The pandemic, however, forced organizations to be more open-minded about workplace flexibility casting doubt on the age-old belief that a remote organization cannot be as successful as a traditional in-office workplace.
According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Co., more than 50% of the workforce before the world went into lockdown could not successfully pivot to work remotely. There are also jobs that have, under their current framework, that requires the employee to be in the office to be more efficient and productive.
As the workplace and workforce evolves, the concept of working from home will be more commonplace, even for those industries that aren’t able to go remote today. Through technology, certain professions and/or job functions will be eliminated; while new ones will be created. You’ll see a shift away from hiring based on one’s ability to execute and a higher demand for individuals who are capable of strategic thinking.
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?
For many, there will be a reprioritization and a re-balance of work and life responsibilities. Mental health will no longer be just the employee’s problem, as its importance in employee productivity is better understood by employers. Additionally, with the upcoming shift in labor trends, there will be a need for greater investment in DEI initiatives and efforts, including a social need to support the labor force as they upskill and/or change skills to adapt to the evolving job opportunities.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
Employees are demanding change. They’re no longer willing to settle for sub-par working conditions. This, in turn, will force organizations to pivot to an authentic “people first” business model that will have greater impact on overall environmental and social justice.
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’ve seen companies offer mental health programs at work for their employees. It’s a great start. It’s not enough. More is required to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and well-being.
An overhaul on today’s professional development programs is required. Ultimately, the organization’s culture stems from the top. To provide a safe space for employees, senior executives must not only carry the message but embody it. Employees can no longer be told that their mental health is important while still being required to work every holiday, vacation, weekend, and evening. It must be one or the other; not both. Executives within the firm who have influence over the organization’s culture must commit to their employee’s mental health and prioritize it over their profits (short-term).
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 biggest message from all of this is that employees are back in the driver’s seat. They are no longer a commodity. Even at the height of the pandemic, employees resigned for better opportunities. Employees are no longer dispensable if the organization wants to hire and retain top talent.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- More automation: lack of available labor will lead to creative innovations that provide alternative solutions for a scarce labor force. Additionally, employers in the industries hardest hit by the pandemic and the Great Resignation will also look to mitigate the need on workers through technological investment, such as automation and robots.
- Increased “people” investment. With an employee job market, employers must invest in their people if they are interested in recruiting and retaining top talent. Employer mindset will shift away from a “they need me” mentality to “I need them”; which will create more leverage for employees to ask for benefits that help boost employee morale.
- More flexible work arrangements. Remote work opportunities in industries that have traditionally been viewed as an in-person / in-office only operation, as well as a standardization of this practice in the industries that have already adopted remote work schedules, will eventually become the norm, and an added benefit to attract top talent.
- Shift in prioritization of hiring needs. With technological innovation and advancement, such as artificial intelligence and automation, coming in the near future, hiring managers will focus less on specific job skills and more on the candidate’s ability to problem solve, strategize, and build relationships.
- Re-evaluation of job performance. Gone are the days of face time. Job performance will require more objective standards to accommodate for remote employees. Similarly, standards for promotions (especially to a hiring manager role), will shift to more evidence-based evaluations, which could reduce the number of hiring / promotion decisions based on personal preference and/or biases.
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?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
What we believe, we create…it’s quite circular, right? Ultimately, we get to choose our own beliefs about ourselves and our opportunities. Quite powerful when you realize that no one else has the power to affect us the way we affect ourselves.
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’d LOVE to have a conversation with Gary Vaynerchuk and hear from him how he operationalizes kindness and purpose in his organizations.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.
Such an honor to be here and thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your series.