Hiring and retaining talent will remain businesses’ top priority. Even before Covid, the talent industry was seeing a shift of employees leaving for new opportunities and a skills gap in specific industries. This will continue until we (society) demand more training and development opportunities for skill trade, technology, and soft skills.

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 Jodi Brandstetter.

Jodi Brandstetter believes every HR professional can leverage design thinking methodology to solve complex HR challenges. With more than 20 years of HR experience and a certification in design thinking, Jodi is a guide to solving complex HR challenges with this creative and innovative method. Jodi is the CEO of Lean Effective Talent Strategies, a talent acquisition consulting firm, Talent Acquisition Evolution, a community for recruiting professionals to connect, learn, and work together and the bestselling author of Hire by Design and HR by Design.

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.

These two experiences changed my life:

  1. Finding myself after a divorce. I got married at a young age, and it did not last. After the divorce, I (re-) discovered I was strong and could get through anything with the right support group.
  2. Having my daughter seven years ago made me realize that, although my career was valuable, I needed to value myself more. I was so more than a Director of Talent Acquisition at a major corporation.

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?

Same in 10–15 years: We will still be trying to figure out employee engagement. How engaged are they, how best to engage them, how they want to be engaged. And change will be constant still.

Different: The composition of the workforce will be different, and companies will need to understand the workforce as real people, individuals, and create work environments that works for them.

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

Keep listening to your employees and focus on creating a work environment that works for them (not what you think works for them or what works for you or for your predetermined budget). Start with a clean piece of paper, fill it up with ideas and input from your employees themselves, and then estimate, budget, and plan to implement.

Be flexible and adapt to changes your employees want to see.

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 will be transparency. Employees crave understanding of the business, how the world impacts the business, and how they impact the business and the world. Many companies have difficulty providing full transparency or simply misjudge what information employees want and want to understand.

A strategy is to start with honesty. This includes being honest about when you cannot provide specific information and why.

Another strategy is to have constant dialogue with employees in a way that works for them. Setting this up and listening to what employees are saying will ensure you have an understanding of your employees’ expectations, ideas, and morale.

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 brought the human back into the organization. We all were in this together, and companies had to figure out how to handle a pandemic and remote work. The remote work was like an experiment for companies to see whether employees would be able to work from home and still maintain performance.

It also showed clear signs of concern for employees who were essential and had to go to work each day while others stayed home. We truly saw the different expectations based on roles during this time.

This experiment will give companies the confidence to continue to experiment in work environments in the future of work.

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?

People want to be seen as humans and not employees. They want companies to see them holistically and meet their needs differently. Having organizations continue to support them both personally and professionally is what people will continue to want moving forward.

And society will have to be more flexible with expectations of companies because of this.

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

The possibilities are endless. We are at the edge of another industrial revolution that can truly make living and working better. If we as a society can come together and promote change for the better, the future looks bright.

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 first step is recognizing mental health as a priority and allowing it to be a part of the conversation.

Mental health illnesses can no longer be brushed under the rug. We (society) must be willing to have these hard conversations and continue to ask our peers/co-workers/employees how they are doing and to provide support.

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?

Yes, there is movement. People are changing jobs and even leaving the workforce.

Some of this is movement that people decided not to do during the pandemic, so it is lagged turnover that should have happened in 2020 or 2021.

Some of it is normal turnover that happens in any given year for all kinds of reasons.

And some of it is turnover resulting from the Great Reevaluation.

Before, during, and after the pandemic, companies needed to improve their culture and work environment. Employees’ expectations have shifted, and employers need to move with these shifts in their people’s mindsets. Communication and transparency will help them increase employee satisfaction and retention.

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

  1. Gig work and moonlighting will continue. With the pace of technology change and consumer expectations, companies must continue to improve their technology and systems. Hiring a gig worker who has niche expertise can be a better option than hiring full time. People see gig work as a way to be an expert on their own terms. A lot of great talent will be in the gig economy that companies will need to hire, but in a gig way.
  2. The 40-hour week will not always be the norm. With the next industrial revolution, AI and machine learning will give companies and people the ability to be more flexible with hours of work. The 40-hour week expectation will go away. This may result in less, or even more, hours depending on the company, the season, the role, etc.
  3. Employees’ expectations of employers will continue to increase. Employees will continue to want, expect, and demand more from their employers. More communication, more transparency, more flexibility, more training and development. This is not going away.
  4. Hiring and retaining talent will remain businesses’ top priority. Even before Covid, the talent industry was seeing a shift of employees leaving for new opportunities and a skills gap in specific industries. This will continue until we (society) demand more training and development opportunities for skill trade, technology, and soft skills.
  5. Companies must not just anticipate demographic shifts, they must prepare for them. We are moving to a minority majority in the US. Employees will be more diverse than ever in so many ways, including age, race, skills, location, etc. Companies must start preparing for this now. Make your work environment more inclusive. Listen to employees and future employees to understand what they want from a company. Be willing to change and iterate policies, procedures, environments, benefits, etc., accordingly.

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 Broadway show is Rent. My junior year of high school, I was able to go to NYC and see the original cast perform Rent. It was the first musical I saw that was modern with modern music. I fell in love with the story and the music. I have probably seen the musical over a dozen times.

And in Rent, they consistently talk about No Day But Today. Living in the moment and letting go of your past, not focusing on the future. No Day But Today is the quote I live by. Instead of putting this on my desk or on a scrap of paper, I got a tattoo of Today spelled in Hindi on my wrist. It is a constant reminder for me to focus on today because there is no other day like it.

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 grew up with Dolly Parton music and her movies. She was a constant throughout my childhood. As an adult, I have learned about her business smarts and her focus on service and giving back. I would love to have lunch with Dolly Parton and learn more about her story and her focus on service.

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: [email protected]

Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/in/jodibrandstetter

Website: https://jodibrandstetter.com

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