Employers will shift from focusing on titles to focusing on skills.

Moving forward, I anticipate that employers will seek out employees with specialized skills with connection to specific business needs instead of just looking for employees who can fill job roles. If you think about it, you’ll notice that roles are related to a place in the structural hierarchy of an organization whereas skills specifically affect the business needs and challenges.

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 Kathrin Triebel.

Kathrin Triebel is Director Global Human Relations at OTRS AG and was instrumental in building up the HR department. Prior to that, Kathrin Triebel was a recruiter at a large international HR service provider. With a degree in economics, she is the mother of two children (ages 3 and 10).

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.

I have always had a great interest in working with people, I noticed early on that I am comfortable communicating and interacting with a wide variety of personalities. In my position as a recruiter at a large international HR consultancy, I quickly realized that my place was in a company where I not only helped people find a new job, but also accompanied them, supported their development and made a significant contribution to the development of the company, the individual employee and the corporate culture. Today I can say that I am exactly where I belong.

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 believe the new work patterns shaped by the pandemic, specifically a dramatic increase in remote work, will be our next normal. However, technology will obviously continue to develop and grow. Therefore, employees will face different responsibilities, especially those in a managerial position. It’s more difficult to provide assistance when the employees working with you are found in different places and maybe even working in different time zones. I predict the future of management will be more geared towards teaching employees instead of managing them.

I also feel that many employees seek to make a social impact through their careers and actions. They look for opportunities to connect the impact and value of their work to their passions. In the future also for companies it will be more important to not only pay attractive salaries, but to offer employees opportunities to make that meaningful impact.

Another huge challenge will be (and already is) to level out the remote work-life balance. As many advantages as this concept of working offers, it also promotes issues of disengagement and loneliness. HR leaders must try to ensure that a healthy work-life balance is a part of their company’s culture.

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

Try to treat the company like a living ecosystem, where all moving pieces have to work in sync to function properly. Have the foresight to plan for future disruptions and strive to make the system even more resilient than before. Also, redefine what “great” looks like, because traditional approaches only work well when the jobs people will be performing in the future are largely the same as today. Try to find out what your future employees want from you, since that will definitely be very different from what workers want today or even wanted five years ago.

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 right now is the one between what employees really want and what employers think they want. Since the pandemic, digital transformation has accelerated across all sectors and companies must completely rethink how they attract, retain, and manage their talent. One of the biggest issues might be that employees expect flexible options while some companies, regardless of size, aren’t willing to offer those. It’s very clear to me, that workers look for positions that offer complete flexibility in their hours and location. I predict future employees are more likely to prioritize lifestyle over work; therefore, they will pursue jobs in locations where they can focus on both.

In the future, another huge gap between employers and employees may be how productivity is measured. Traditionally, the volume of work is taken into account when it comes to measuring the productivity of an employee. Historically, many employers still assume that the most productive and valuable employees are those who work the most. In my opinion, this is no longer in line with the times. More and more employees seek to work for a company that prioritizes outcomes over output. They want to work for an organization that cares less about the quantified work output and more about the impact they can deliver to the business.

In summation, many companies will benefit from taking a wider approach to recruitment. This shifted perspective will expand the possibility of attracting more qualified employees thus leading to an increase in the company’s productivity and creativity.

Additionally, companies need to prioritize employee learning and development. Arising business models and the pandemic have brought new roles to light and offer opportunities for organizations and employees to grow. Upskilling and reskilling will be a critical factor in attracting and retaining the talent companies need to make their businesses resilient, solid and growing. This strategy will not only enhance the motivation of their existing workers, but will gain the attention of new talents.

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

Remote work options seem as though they are here to stay. More and more companies are offering remote or part-time remote work as valid employment options. Prior to the pandemic, work-from-home jobs were few and far between. Now, almost everyone has the option to work remotely, at least occasionally if not full-time. Moving forward, I predict employees will continue to expect to have that option; companies need to adapt accordingly.

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

I think it needs to become more socially acceptable to stop working at the end of the workday. That means no more late-night emails or phone calls. No “quick meetings” on the weekends or while on vacation etc. As more people work from home, I can see those lines getting blurred. It is more important than ever to establish healthy boundaries in regard to work.

My greatest source of optimism about the future of work is that perhaps work-life balance will become more important to employers and employees alike. This will hopefully lead to less stressed/burnt out employees and a happier workforce in general.

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?

Firstly, I think it’s important to mention that the employee’s wellbeing can be defined as how the job (duties, stress level, environment etc.) affects the employee’s overall health and happiness. Once you understand this, you’ll notice that wellbeing isn’t just about physical health but about mood and cognition as well. Prioritizing employee health means considering the totality of the lives of your employees and their overall quality of life. There are certainly many proven and powerful ways to ensure and even improve upon an employee’s wellbeing; some are well established already, and some might be considered innovative or new. But first, before you consider creating a wellbeing program, it can make sense to launch an employee wellbeing survey to make sure that strategies are tailored to your team and optimized to provide long-term value.

For reference, here are some of the strategies I’ve seen and liked:

  1. Instituting flexible working hours for an improved work-life balance. Work is important, but there are certainly many other things outside of work that can give someone’s life meaning and purpose. Hobbies, family, travel etc. require time and energy. By allowing flexible working hours, employers empower employees to alter their working habits to fit their family needs or to keep working on other projects/hobbies that give their lives additional meaning.
  2. Letting employees set their own goals and work strategies. Detailed job descriptions may motivate employees to do their best work and are sometimes necessary for a company’s bottom line. However, employees may feel more motivated and fulfilled if they can set some of their own goals and come up with their own strategies to fulfill objectives.
  3. Arranging group volunteer days and activities. Volunteering benefits the mind, the community and even the body. Not to mention, it can promote team bonding.

And those are just a few examples!

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?

I think the most important message leaders need to hear from these headlines is that employees aren’t afraid to hunt for a job that is flexible with a good company culture. Companies need to evolve to meet the needs of their employees and potential employees if they want to stay competitive in the job market! Offering things like remote work options, team bonding activities and opportunities for employees to provide regular feedback could prove lucrative to companies in the long run.

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

  1. There will be a change in managerial roles.

Due to the recent shift towards remote work, there are and will continue to be less in-person interactions in the workplace which means managers need to be more intentional in establishing and developing relationships with their team. However, I have found that the relationship between a manager and an employee is highly important in shaping an employee’s connection to the organization. I make sure to always seek out ways to connect with my employees and colleagues beyond just work conversations — even if it’s just a short catch-up call, the difference can be substantial!

2. Shorter working hours (or work weeks) may be a key benefit an employer can offer in the future.

The changing prioritization of work and (private) life of employees will force employers to rethink their established concept of working hours to retain and attract talent. At OTRS, we are very aware that our employees have a life outside of work, and we make sure to have policies in place to accommodate that. We also like to celebrate life’s major milestones as a team to further boost morale.

3. Hybrid work is becoming the norm.

I’ve touched on this a bit already, but it simply remains a key factor. While some businesses have shifted to remote work completely, others remain on a centralized office work model. In the future, I predict we will meet in the middle and offer hybrid working models. It’s a rising trend, and many employees prefer the flexibility and like having the choice of where to work. Several OTRS employees are currently thriving on hybrid schedules, so we’ve seen it work firsthand.

4. Employers will shift from focusing on titles to focusing on skills.

Moving forward, I anticipate that employers will seek out employees with specialized skills with connection to specific business needs instead of just looking for employees who can fill job roles. If you think about it, you’ll notice that roles are related to a place in the structural hierarchy of an organization whereas skills specifically affect the business needs and challenges.

At OTRS, we absolutely value employee skills. We actively seek out candidates based on their skill sets and offer current employees training so that they are able to gain new skills as well.

5. Sustainability will continue to grow in importance.

Companies will change to a more people-focused approach. Not only employees, but also more and more partners and customers are turning away from businesses that won’t commit to building a sustainable future and that aren’t willing to change mindset and skillsets. At OTRS we are continuously working on limiting our environmental impact. We support environmental organizations and instead of “real” birthday presents we plant trees whenever there’s a birthday of our team members. We also try to reduce waste in our offices as much as possible. We focus on using sustainable materials wherever we can and encourage employees to take alternative, green transport such as utilizing a bike leasing company. There is certainly still room for improvement, but we are working tirelessly to become the sustainable company we want to be.

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?

“The biggest lesson in life is failure.” Of course, experiencing failure is one of the worst things in life. It comes with negative emotions and bad feelings. Most people probably do anything within their power to avoid failure, even if this means never attempting anything new. But I like to see beyond the negative energy it comes with and ask myself “what lesson have I learned?” Experiencing failure can teach you lessons that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise — you can learn from failure, and that’s fantastic. There are countless very successful people in the world that were only able to succeed because of the lessons they learned from their previous failures. This is also what we try to teach our employees at OTRS. It’s ok to fail sometimes, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they will teach you something and you will grow.

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.

It might be a little ambitious, but I would say Barack Obama. He has impressed me with his empathic and human manner, and I admire his leadership style. In my eyes, he has never lost his authenticity. He often really impressed me.

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?

They are very welcome to contact me through LinkedIn, I’d be pleased to talk with them!

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

Thank’s for having me!