Flexibility resulting in more autonomy is something that should be unique to the team member as an individual as well to the role they signed up for in customer/client service. Transparently tracking and reporting the trend of team members who confidentially report that flexibility is working for them. They have sufficient input to integrate their career and personal lives realizing that priorities will conflict at times. This trend will be even more common in the future of 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 Joey Havens.

Joey is the author of Leading with Significance: How to Create a Magnetic People-First Culture and he is the former managing partner of top 50 CPA firm HORNE LLP. He publishes a weekly blog beBetter and actively challenges the mainstays of business culture and strategic planning.


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.

My biggest influence would certainly be my Christian parents, Joe and Mary Havens, who taught us the love of Christ and showed us daily how to live Christian values. From a work experience, I still remember my first professional job out of college with Arthur Andersen in Houston TX. I was so excited to have secured a job with one of the top CPA firms in the world. After my first year, I received my written evaluation. I was AVERAGE in 5 or 6 categories and had NEEDS TO IMPROVE in two others. That splash of cold reality set me on a path of determination and the pursuit of my full potential. I never wanted to be average again.

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 the future, I think most learning will be virtual and advanced level with case studies that transition the person into real life role playing to accelerate learning of complex technical concepts as well as self-awareness and human interactions. Most research will be conducted by AI tools like ChatGPT. All repetitive tasks will be fully automated. Individuals will work hybrid schedules that are designed for their values, choices and assigned role.

We will always have conflicts between priorities for our careers and for our personal lives. People will still need and crave face to face interactions for relationships and faster growth. Unfortunately, I believe government will still be trying to regulate workplace culture which will limit people’s freedoms.

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

The only long-term distinctive advantage an organization can have going forward is a magnetic people-first culture. These high trust organizations will have a strong sense of belonging that will lead to discretionary efforts resulting in high performance and amazing customer/client experiences. It is a journey not a destination which requires leadership to be intentional and bold every day.

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 I see today and for the future is wrapped up in one word. Autonomy. People want more autonomy in decisions that help them manage their careers and their personal lives. Organizations are continuing to offer glimpses of this flexibility yet there’s lots of control in the fine print. Organizations also struggle with consistency from leaders who may or may not buy in to the hybrid workplace.

We begin to close these gaps when leaders are vulnerable enough to trust in the inherent good in people. People want to be successful, and they want to meet expectations. When this trust is present, and leadership connects with intentional ways to care and serve their people, a strong sense of belonging grows, energy rises, and trust flows within the teams. It is not the wild, wild west, organizations must match this trust with clarity in expectations and commitments, communications improved and transparency must be seen as a hallmark of the team. Accountability mindset should move from control and time to results.

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

This is probably the easiest question. We are not going back. People want more autonomy in how, when and where they work. The journey will be unique for each individual, each team and each organization. There will be customer and client team roles that require on-site presence and there will be people who want to be in those roles. People and organizations will find a rhythm where high performance is a result of matching expectations with autonomy to have significant influence in how we succeed together.

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?

My personal opinion is that society and the workplace culture will all get better if we embrace God as our creator and implement the Christian values of loving and caring for each other.

From a pure societal framework, I think the mindset of excellence from anywhere will be critical. Critical for the team member and for the leadership team. We were created to be connected as humans and due to the isolation that will become more dominant in the future, less personal interactions, I think society has to prepare better for depression and mental illness, not just in the treatment but early detection. This will certainly be one of our most pressing medical issues for the future workforce.

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

Trusting in the inherent good in people.

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?

Innovative might be swapped for Intentional. Leaders who are intentional in connecting, caring and serving their people will create a workplace that actually energizes and inspires people. Intentional will include education on what leads to an overall positive outlook and wellbeing. By establishing high trust cultures that create a strong sense of belonging people will feel more fulfilled a member of the team and building something bigger than themselves. Intentional will include hybrid work that has events that are face to face and for many people, this will involve weekly meetings.

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?

Our so called “Good Culture” is not good enough to sustain us going forward. People must feel more valuable and appreciated. People are demanding more input into how when and where they work. All the fads including higher compensation will fall short if people do not find high trust cultures where they have a strong sense of belonging. Step one is embrace the brutal ugly reality of where your “good” culture sits. Step two is to trust in the inherent good in people, be vulnerable, be bold. Step three is to be intentional in connecting, caring and serving. Embrace more feedback and take a hard line on bad behaviors especially from leaders.

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

I’m going to provide three internal trends (1–3) for an organization trying to evolve their culture into one that is magnetic and two external trends (4–5) that will impact the workforce in multiple ways.

  1. Flexibility — Flexibility resulting in more autonomy is something that should be unique to the team member as an individual as well to the role they signed up for in customer/client service. Transparently tracking and reporting the trend of team members who confidentially report that flexibility is working for them. They have sufficient input to integrate their career and personal lives realizing that priorities will conflict at times. This trend will be even more common in the future of work.
  2. Sense of Belonging — Transparent reporting of team members sense of belonging. Regular surveys that provide insights into the trend of the team’s overall sense of belonging. What percentage of team members are reporting a strong sense of belonging? This trend must get stronger for the organization to be successful with a future workforce. This will be a strong indicator on team member well being which will be at the forefront of the future of work. This can also be utilized to provide insights into what wellness programs might be beneficial.
  3. Turnover — Transparently tracking and reporting on turnover as a measure of the strength of an organizations culture. Counting voluntary and involuntary turnover as team members choose to leave or were not the right fit for the organization. The trend now is higher turnover for most organizations and this could continue into the future. Organizations that evolve their culture will get under this curve as they attract and retain more talent.
  4. Artificial Intelligence — ChatGPT and other AI tools will dramatically impact the future of work. What we do and how we do it. People will need to learn, unlearn and relearn at a very fast pace as these technologies gain more footing in a wide variety of tasks that are now filled by people. How can the organization leverage these tools to make their people more successful, raise the bar on what every team member is doing. Develop the skills to use these new tools to create new and innovative solutions and deliverables. Automation is paired with this AI trend. We should expect jobs to change, some becoming extinct but the future of work will include lots of new roles for people.
  5. Gig Economy, freelancing and up skills — As organizations are slow to get flexibility right, the future of work will find more individuals jumping ship to do their own gig. Working independently where they have more autonomy. The gig economy will play a bigger role in the future of work. New skills and up skilling our present skills will be part of the future of work. This trend will be constant in the future of work and will at times determine how often an organization needs to look to the gig economy to secure a certain skill. .

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?

In reference to the perspective of this interview on workplace culture, I cling to one that our team developed at HORNE. Every voice counts. One Team One Direction.

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’m going to go with Simon Sinek as I have lots of respect for his work and his messages. His book The Infinite Game is dead on target for what leaders and organizations need to understand. My book Leading with Significance is a real life story of how for an organization that choose the infinite path.

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?

Joeyhavens.com, follow my weekly beBetter blog and my LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeyhavens/

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!