Engaged employees are more motivated, productive, and committed to their work. In the age of “The Great Resignation” and after, now it is more important than ever for leaders to foster a positive work culture in order to keep their retention levels high, building an organizational memory that will help with its resiliency in future times of change and uncertainty.

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 John Goullet.

John Goullet is an entrepreneur and business services executive with almost three decades of experience building companies and leading teams. He founded the information technology/systems staffing company Info Technologies, Inc. and served as its CEO for over fifteen years before facilitating its merger with Diversant, Inc. and co-founding the new business Diversant LLC. As chairman, Goullet helped it to become one of the largest information technology staffing firms in the country.

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.

Thanks for having me, happy to provide my insights.

I would say founding my first company, Info Technologies, really shaped my professional career and who I have become as a leader. I had begun my career in computer consulting advising companies on technology implantation in the 1980’s. I eventually moved to the staffing side of IT and was working as an account executive observing the ever-growing demand for highly-skilled IT professionals. For large companies that predated the personal computer in particular, building out an IT infrastructure was a massive undertaking that required considerable planning, and I recognized a hole in the market for a staffing company that fulfilled that need. I founded Info Technologies with the specific intention of serving Fortune 500 companies, matching them with expert IT professionals that could handle their high-level needs.

That is what I would say put my career trajectory in motion, but it was my work facilitating its merger that shaped me most as a leader. I had no background in business prior to founding Info Technologies, but over the course of a decade I was able to build my business to become one of the largest IT staffing firms in the country. When the opportunity came to merge with another company I was in completely new territory, but came out the other side as chairman of a larger, stronger organization.

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?

I have witnessed the incredible transformation of the workplace over the past 30 years as a result of the personal computer and broadband internet, and I can confidently say that the only true constant in business is change. I must admit I find it difficult to make blanket predictions knowing this, and how each industry’s needs are so specific. What I can say is that I do believe remote and virtual work is here to stay in some capacity, and the internet will continue to be a growing hub for nearly all aspects of life from e-commerce to telehealth. In fact, I would say where we will differ most in 10–15 years is in our adoption of digital technologies such as automation and AI in the workplace. I predict these will have been highly integrated into most companies in some capacity, and we will have adapted accordingly.

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

My advice to them is as always has been to prioritize the individual needs of their organization, rather than look for a one-size-fits-all model. While looking at trends affecting the workforce and workplaces can be useful data to consider, ultimately leaders should be looking to prioritize retention and employee engagement. A resilient organization is one with high retention and a workforce that is committed to its purpose and values.

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?

Obviously, the biggest struggle right now is establishing a new norm after people have become used to working from home. I would encourage leaders to again avoid looking at trends or being influenced by what other companies are doing, and instead tailor the balance of the two in their company in a way that is unique to their needs. It can be easy as a leader to get overwhelmed by the doomsday headlines, but at the end of the day a split that works for one company could prove detrimental to another. Ask yourself how you can truly make the most of your workers productivity while also maintaining a workforce that is energized and fulfilled?

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

COVID-19 broke down the cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work. It was a perfect storm of high-speed internet capabilities and extenuating circumstances accelerating the adaptation of remote work, as you mentioned coined “Working From Home” or “WFH.” We were forced to be incredibly reactionary in our response as business leaders — there is little to no way to be proactive about a pandemic. For that reason, we are now playing cleanup in terms of retroactively figuring out how to best implement remote work in the future. Many people enjoyed the saved time on commute, comfort of working in their own homes, and general flexibility that working from home afforded, and they do not want to lose what they now consider to be perks of the job. It is my belief that we will never be able to truly return to a time when there is no form of remote work anymore.

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?

Well, obviously there needs to be a shift in the mindset of leaders toward flexible work arrangements. As I said previously, exactly what that flexibility entails can and should differ from business to business, but overall embracing a less rigid approach will promote a work-life balance that is more in line with what the workforce in society today craves. In-tandem with this, an emphasis on sustainable work practices that includes things such as promoting work-life balance, reducing work-related stress, and recognizing and addressing the importance of mental health must become the norm for businesses to in turn be sustainable themselves.

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

I believe that a hybrid working will only serve to improve the quality of output for businesses. Embracing and expanding flexible work arrangements such as remote work and flexible scheduling can provide greater opportunities by accommodating diverse needs and responsibilities. As technology continues to advance, we will find ways to automate inefficiencies and overall become a more productive society thanks to a balanced workforce that is engaged and derives fulfillment from their work.

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 think we’ve come leaps and bounds from the early 2010s when putting a foosball table in the atrium and offering yoga classes were considered valid ways to take care of employees’ mental health and prevent burnout. We’re finding now that these problems are often symptoms of more systemic problems within an organization that can eventually cause it to collapse. Leaders focused on longevity in their businesses consider the mental health of their employees as an aspect of their strategy — without their well-being the company cannot function effectively. In this evolving work environment, successful leaders are those who recognize that their greatest asset are their employees who bring their vision to life, and treat them accordingly.

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?

Leaders need to recognize that there have been significant shifts in the workforce and employee mindsets, and refrain from believing that maintaining the status quo is the right trajectory for the future. I remember reading somewhere that Henry Ford was the person who pioneered the full two-day weekend, but today over a century later it is considered the norm for most office jobs. This just illustrates that what appears novel now could potentially have staying power, and what was normal before the pandemic is now being challenged. Leaders should lean into that challenge, and use it as a driving force to evaluate whether they are listening to their employees’ expectations and needs within their own organizations.

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

  1. Greater transparency

When the pandemic hit, suddenly leaders could no longer hide behind the guise of being all-knowing. For many, it was the first time they had to admit to employees that they were just as in the dark about proceeding as everybody else. There was a sense of transparency that I think will continue to ripple through even as the pandemic has ceased to cause an upheaval.

2. Focus on purpose and values

Public sentiment — whether it be customers, employees, or shareholders — has shifted in recent years to take into account social and corporate responsibility when choosing who they patronize, work for, and invest in, respectively. Leaders need to recognize that in order to be a successful company operating in 2023, they must have a clear purpose and reinforce the values and behaviors that move this purpose forward.

3. Flexible work arrangements

We have already discussed this quite a bit in this interview, but I cannot stress enough how important it is for leaders to understand the benefits that will come from evaluating how they can individually tailor their working arrangements to best meet the needs of the company and its workers. They should ask themselves these simple questions: How do we make money? How does work get done? The answer to these two questions will reveal a starting point for determining what the needs of the business are and how employee needs will fit into the puzzle piece.

4. Employee engagement

Engaged employees are more motivated, productive, and committed to their work. In the age of “The Great Resignation” and after, now it is more important than ever for leaders to foster a positive work culture in order to keep their retention levels high, building an organizational memory that will help with its resiliency in future times of change and uncertainty.

5. Focus on internal talent

Another result of the Great Resignation has been a focus on upskilling, creating mobility within organizations that makes them attractive to remain at for employees. Leaders will need to invest in employee development programs, offer accessible and personalized learning opportunities, and encourage a culture of lifelong learning to ensure a skilled and adaptable workforce.

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?

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”

That is a quote from Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now.” When I read it I immediately underlined it twice, and have returned to it many times when faced with decisions both in my personal and professional life. It brings to mind Newton’s first law of motion: an object in motion stays in motion. The quote helps me remember that indecisiveness and stalling is often worse than any mistake forward momentum brings.

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 pick the brain of Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Airlines. He did a terrific TED Talk on leading a business during times of uncertainty, basically encouraging leaders to look for opportunities even in the dark. I’d highly recommend the episode for anybody who tends to have a pessimistic view toward business — it’s a good reminder to always be looking for ways to turn bad situations into better growth.

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 can reach me via my personal website, LinkedIn profile, or on Twitter. Links provided below.



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