Exhibiting and valuing a strong work ethic. This is not necessarily a skill that can be trained or taught, so when an employee demonstrates strong work ethic, it should be recognized and rewarded. There should always be return for a hard day’s work.

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 Joel Campbell.

Joel Campbell leads TreviPay’s financial and treasury operations, financial controls, statutory accounting, financial planning and analysis, and process improvement initiatives for TreviPay’s 24 entities. Most recently, Joel served as Vice President, Treasurer & Chief Risk Officer at H&R Block. Prior to joining H&R Block, Campbell served as Vice President & Assistant Treasurer at Western Union and held treasury positions at Ameriprise Financial and Travelers Companies, Inc. He has more than two decades of domestic and international financial expertise and a deep understanding of payments and capital markets.

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.

Appreciate the opportunity! Throughout my 30-plus years in finance, I have worked for four S&P 500 industries with opportunities across insurance, financial planning, money transfer, taxes and business-to-business (B2B) payments. The breadth of technical experience and chances to manage different sizes of teams have led me to my current role as Chief Financial Officer at TreviPay, the global B2B payments and invoicing network. Being able to work with and learn from so many people helped me better understand different work styles and how I can best lead a diverse team.

Growing up, my father was a Baptist minister, which is where I believe my strong values, work ethic, integrity and character stem from, and continue today. My parents encouraged my involvement in competitive sports as a young teenager, instilling aspects of discipline and working with others. I also had the privilege of attending Cedarville University, a small Christian college near Dayton, Ohio where I confirmed my faith and developed my love for Finance and Accounting.

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 10–15 years from now, I believe many things will remain the same, including the need for a strong work ethic and a good attitude to under promise and over deliver. In the future, there will still be the need to deliver for our shareholders/owners/leaders as part of contributing to a company’s growth — I don’t see this wavering with for-profit companies. Those that seek more responsibility and showcase a drive to take on challenging tasks will continue to excel.

Workforces will change over time as company culture evolves and embraces what a post-COVID workforce wants regarding work/life harmony. This might reflect fewer hours/days working in an office, accelerated back-office automation, or a new focus on social impact/issues that resonate with a company and its employee base. I predict remote work will likely ebb and flow, with some people working from anywhere, but a hybrid environment will be more common.

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

Employers must be flexible while also maintaining a defined culture that fits their company environment. This will look different for every company, but it’s important for employers to stay close to their purpose.

To help with futureproofing, employers should carve out time to listen to their team’s needs, concerns and frustrations, and then follow-up with action. Employees want to be heard, and they also expect leaders to return with clarity on why decisions or policies are (or are not) being made. You may get resistance at first, but in my experience, taking this approach — even if it takes a long time — will eventually see people come on board.

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 want an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, while employees want flexibility and freedom to fit work into their lives. I don’t predict those will change but finding the right balance may need to be adjusted over time. Both sides need to be open, flexible and respectful. Employers will need to invest in facilities, benefits, social support systems and compensation to maintain employee morale, but in return, employees will need to offer hard work, productivity, accountability and results (along with dedication/loyalty) to earn their colleagues’ trust.

To help facilitate this symbiotic relationship, leaders should ask the tough questions, listen to the responses and take action. In my role at TreviPay, I try to talk to every person on my team every week. This little bit of facetime (which can also be virtual) goes a long way in ensuring my team feels valued, while also building a stronger connection and appearing more accessible and approachable. I recommend scheduling 1-on-1s with direct reports and skip-level meetings, and be intentional about protecting these calendar timeslots. It can be perceived as disrespectful — the opposite of its intent — if these meetings are consistently re-scheduled or cancelled.

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 in some way, but I believe the “right” or opportunity to remain in a remote work environment must be earned with hard work, productivity and accountability. On the other side, it is management’s responsibility to set clear expectations and monitor results to determine what’s most appropriate for their team and office culture.

Over the last two years, companies have proven that we can operate and be managed from home — thanks to technology and innovation — but I am not convinced that will be the case for every company for the foreseeable future. In the long-term, some form of return-to-office will become normal as the pendulum swings back to the middle over time. At TreviPay, we’ve returned to office in a hybrid capacity. We did this to ensure we maintain our collaborative, social, flexible culture. While there was initial opposition 6–8 months ago, I’ve heard much more positive reactions recently.

We’ve also seen changes within our clients from the accelerated digitation of work. Inefficient administrative processes consume department time and resources, but with the right support and back-office innovation, A/R teams can be fully equipped for the future of payments.

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?

Firstly, I anticipate people working longer (in terms of years) even if in a reduced capacity or consultant-type role as they move into the later years of their career. This allows people to continue to earn wages to stay active, support themselves or their families and take on other life pursuits. Secondly, companies will likely need to adjust their perspective on what current staff and the next generation of workers want out of work. There is a definite push toward brands having a stance on social or political endeavors in addition to the work itself, but all companies must evaluate how they can be better set-up for the future of work and attract all levels of talent.

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

The rise in automation within finance departments is a great source of optimism. The pandemic has driven four to five years of digital transformation and compressed it into the last 18 months. One area of modernization that has been particularly pronounced is in the back office, and the handling of financial data for accounts receivable/accounts payable functions. Activities that weren’t necessarily “broken” before the pandemic, suddenly came to a standstill. For instance, when there’s not someone sitting in the office to open the mail to pay invoices and take checks to the bank, the payment cycle can really get challenged and slowed down. All the back office financial data processes had to immediately modernize and digitize, like onboarding, billing, reconciliation, dispute management and collections. One example of this is when invoices had to go completely digital and become significantly more thorough by including all necessary data, like PO numbers, so that they could be better processed by automated systems.

Accounts receivable automation can help finance departments by enabling teams to focus on high-level service and processes, instead of administrative tasks or manual processes. Automation also improves the customer service experience, leading to a larger share of wallet, more loyal clients and the reduction of non-payment risk.

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?

Mental health and wellbeing are extremely important — and the recent focus on our individual and collective mental wellbeing is refreshing. This was extremely important 30 years ago, but companies didn’t recognize or value these health benefits, as the onus was on the employee.

Companies must lean into benefits and other offerings (like good facilities, flexible office environments, gym access, etc.) that challenge people to improve their health broadly to be able to offer their best work or peak performance in a repeatable manner. Even smaller companies can do this through their benefits partners to ensure access for everyone in support of individual needs.

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 most important message to me is that people matter. Great companies run because of the people doing the work every day, so leaders need to listen and hear their peoples’ concerns and then take the action they can to meet employees’ needs to the best of their abilities.

In my opinion, the Great Resignation/Reconfiguration happened when management lost touch with the real needs of their employees. The culture at these companies never evolved. If leaders are set in their ways, and the tone is set from the top, companies miss out on the value that can be created by their most valuable assets — the people.

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

The top five trends to track in the future of work are:

  • Exhibiting and valuing a strong work ethic. This is not necessarily a skill that can be trained or taught, so when an employee demonstrates strong work ethic, it should be recognized and rewarded. There should always be return for a hard day’s work.
  • Working from home is here to stay. The challenge will be how do we manage it effectively while remaining flexible and growing our companies in that new environment. Dispersed teams must still be able to work concurrently and as efficiently as those working in-office. This means that companies have to accommodate multiple types of workers (i.e. video conferencing capabilities in every meeting room) and job descriptions should showcase this type of flexibility to capture top talent.
  • Enabling back-office automation. As with credit management and B2B financing options more generally, trade credit is becoming increasingly digitized. This not only streamlines the back-office processes but also reduces fraud and human error. In addition, by outsourcing A/R processes such as underwriting, onboarding, invoice submission, matching remittance information, reconciliation and collections, your A/R teams are better able to handle an influx of new business without sacrificing efficiency.
  • Emphasizing the importance of health (mental and physical) and wellbeing. Those companies who get it right will have a competitive advantage in the long-run and likely see less turnover.
  • Adapting to the changing workforce. As the Baby Boomers and Gen X’rs retire, the workforce of the future will look different. Companies have an opportunity to lean into the younger generation’s preferences and view on work to evolve their culture.

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?

One of my favorite quotes was something I heard Dr. Paul Dixon, Chancellor, Cedarville University share, “Life is 20% of what happens to you and 80% of how you react to it.” Many times in life, we are faced with situations our of our control but it is our reaction to those events that are key. Whether we are challenged, experiencing pain or grief, we shouldn’t let bad situation delimit us, but rather allow it to positively define and prepare us for the next stage in our lives.

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 meet American author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek. After reading a few of his books, he offers deep insight into how people think and work. I enjoy following Simon’s posts on LinkedIn where he answers specific leadership questions and shares opportunities to join online classes.

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?

Readers are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn here and follow along with TreviPay’s latest news at www.trevipay.com.

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