…A relaxing of requirements for 4 year degrees in careers that do not demand them. EXAMPLES. Because of the increased demand for human capital and a decreased pool of available and interested workers companies will not be able to afford to pass over quality applicants who do not have non-essential 4 year degrees.

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 Jeffrey S. Deckman.

Jeffrey Deckman is a national and international award-winning author and innovator in the emergent area of Conscious Leadership. He has been a serial entrepreneur for over 40 years. Currently he is a Conscious Leadership strategist, consultant and speaker devoted to promoting Conscious Leadership in Action mindsets, models, and methods.

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.

One of the two life experiences that shaped my life the most is that I and my 4 siblings were raised by good hearted, honest, hard-working parents who instilled in us all the importance of a good work ethic and good character.

The other was my experience with stage 4 cancer in 2016. Both were phenomenal teachers.

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?

What will be the same is that the people in the workforce will still want to do work that is meaningful and interesting to them. They will want to be treated with respect and to be engaged. They will also work hard, and well, for leaders who create that environment for them.

What will be different is that the industrial age top/down, command and control leadership methods of the last century will be replaced by a leadership paradigm that is about uncovering, developing and maximizing the capabilities of individuals, and that inspires them to work in powerful teams.

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

Maximize your ability to maximize the collective genius and energies of the human capital of your organizations. Focus on building strong cultures that bond the people in your organization and encourages them to be loyal to one another and to the organization. Be transparent and approachable. Break down the false “class” barriers between those in the front office and those on the front lines. Then proactively engage them if you want them to become more engaged with you and their work.

Also, it is imperative as leaders we increase our ability to forecast changing conditions. Then we must build a leadership team and workforce that is agile and have the ability to anticipate and adapt to the disruption and exponential change that is now the norm.

The future will be won by leaders and organizations that are designed to thrive in the new age of disruption and rapid change.

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?

I think the biggest gap between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect will be empowerment and inclusion in decision making that directly affects them.

The best strategy I have found is to affect this change is pretty simple. Talk to your people more. Include them in early-stage discussions on policies and procedures that will affect them. Involve them in problem solving and innovation discussions. This not only allows you to benefit from their collective genius and energies but it also gives you the opportunity to see how smart and creative they are; which may surprise you.

The people in your organization represent a highly intelligent, living, breathing and thinking library. Collectively they know how to do everything in the organization. They know where the problems are. They know why many of the problems exist. And they either know how to fix them or they at least can contribute greatly to the conversation on how to resolve them most effectively.

When you include and empower the people in your organization you get much more work done, more effectively and profitably. You also get all of that while working and stressing less on your end.

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

It will force leadership to learn, understand and embrace new leadership mindsets, models and methods that empower and trust the workforce. It will also demand more cooperation and a better balance of power between management and labor. Both sides must respect one another more and work together more closely.

Leadership will have to loosen the reigns and the workforce will have to become more accountable. The organizations that excel at this will excel in the new age of business.

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?

I think politicians, bureaucrats and government, as a whole, have to remove their boots from the necks of small businesses. Their response to the pandemic has been nothing short of draconian and is certainly unprecedented. While some of the changes made sense in the beginning it is now time to allow business people to get to work of rebuilding the economy that the pandemic crippled.

I think there should be tax breaks for small business profits and reinvestment tax credits that reward increasing salaries of those in the workforce instead of giving overly gracious unemployment benefits that incentivize people to not work.

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

People. I have tremendous respect for the inherent genius and creativity of the individual when in an environment that supports their development and doesn’t oppress them.

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?

Many companies are doing really well embracing worker friendly initiatives such as flex time; working from home; becoming more sensitive to parenting needs and the like. However, in addition to these they must not lose sight of a large factor that impacts employee health and well-being: workplace environments.

Companies that deploy strategies that focus upon creating cultures and workplaces that minimize stress and unnecessary frustrations, while acknowledging effort and successes are contribution greatly to the overall health and well-being of their workforce.

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?

As leaders we need to accept the fact that we currently have the 4 or 5 most independent minded, mobile and self-empowered generations in history in the work force. All of them want input on what is happening to them. And none of them are interested in showing up to work and being treated poorly or disrespected.

Traditional leadership mindsets, models and methods and organizational designs are too antiquated to deal with the level of consciousness of the modern worker. The headlines we are seeing are a result of the clash between the new consciousness and the old model.

The way company cultures must evolve is that they must begin encouraging people at all levels of the organization to become more collaborative, more communicative and more supportive of one another. Cultures that overly stress industrial age models of linearity, hierarchies and silos must be replaced by one that promote empowered and independent networks that are woven together by a shared purpose as opposed to authorities.

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. TREND 1: Valuing human capital over financial capital as the organization’s most important resource. EXAMPLE: We are currently in a knowledge economy where an individual’s mindpower drives more profits than their labor. This means the age of valuing money over people is over. That is if you want to survive. Money doesn’t make money in an organization any more than money loses money. People do both. That is especially true in a knowledge economy.
  2. TREND 2. A shift away from industrial age leadership paradigms and a move towards more Conscious Leadership mindsets, models and methods EXAMPLE: Part of the reason for the great resignation trend is because people are simply tired of being treated as “less than” by organizations big and small. So, they are “voting with their feet” by refusing to work for organizations that don’t fulfill them or are not run well. The only way to reverse that trend is to drastically and quickly change how they are treated. And that starts with embracing leadership paradigms that are a higher level than the current command and control model that is so prevalent in many organizations.
  3. TREND 3. An increase in wages. EXAMPLE. Many factors are coming together to create a perfect storm that is forcing employers to increase wages. A labor shortage coupled with a more demanding workforce, (often unrealistically so) combined with many companies needing to increase workforce to meet increasing production demands is creating a situation where companies have to compete more for a dwindling resource. That resource is human capital. So the law of supply and demand will drive up the cost of human capital.
  4. TREND 4. A decrease in entry level and low level, non-trade jobs. EXAMPLE: Because the cost of per capita human capital is on the rise companies are going to look for ways to decrease costs and lessen their need for human capital. This means they will increasingly look for ways to reduce their dependency on people to do work that technology can perform. This is already happening in the fast-food industry, in grocery check-out lines, in banking and in call centers in every industry; to name just a few instances.
  5. TREND 5. A relaxing of requirements for 4 year degrees in careers that do not demand them. EXAMPLES. Because of the increased demand for human capital and a decreased pool of available and interested workers companies will not be able to afford to pass over quality applicants who do not have non-essential 4 year degrees. Adding to this trend is the fact that college enrollments are dropping nationwide and only 33% of those enrolled graduate with a 4 year degree and we see another perfect storm of demand exceeding supply. And because of the nature of the dynamics impacting this trend the impact is sure to be long term.

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?

For the past 15 years my favorite quote has been from Eric Hoffer who stated: “In times of great change learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

This quote is a warning to not get stuck in the egoistic mindset that wants the world to shape to our comforts. It also reminds us that tremendous opportunities await the flexible and agile thinkers who accept reality and invent new ways to thrive and prosper.

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.

Sebastian Junger. I think he is one of the most courageous and powerfully vulnerable people on the planet.

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?

My website is www.jeffreydeckman.com. I have many blogs and podcasts that speak to my body of work around Conscious Leadership in Action. I also have a YouTube channel that has a many short, but thought provoking videos.Just search for Jeffrey Deckman on YouTube 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.