… The first trend that I am seeing in regard to talent and work is the massive increase of opportunities for employees. Remote work has opened to the door for people in Boston to explore jobs in San Francisco. That means small town employers now have to compete with major tech firms for a prospective employee’s attention.

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 Kris Tonas .

Kris Tonas is the CEO and Founder of Preeminent Recruitment an International Talent Firm. He has spent over 20,000 hours helping companies recruit and retain top talent. In addition to being the founder of Preeminent Recruitment he is also a Sales Consultant helping Startups build and establish sales teams and culture.

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.

Growing up I grew increasingly fascinated with the reality that people spend 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week doing something they hated. Over 2,000 hours a year spent painfully, can you imagine? Like most, my parents and family were part of this majority. It made me incredibly sad, and out of this sadness I found motivation to help people break this vicious cycle.

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?

A mentor of mine once said, ‘ you asked the right person about what things will be like 10 years from now because I know the answer… exactly like the last 10.’ — Jim Rohn

He is not wrong you know. Parts of the workforce will be exactly the same because human nature remains consistent. However, what will change dramatically is the necessity to cultivate a good — healthy culture in an organization. The increased usage rates of social media has created a unique transparency never before seen.

As a direct result, If your company has what we call ‘poor’ morale or culture — you best believe people will know about it. The same can be said or the opposite. If your organization is doing a great job building a team that enjoys what they do — others will surely hear this as well!

You have to also keep in mind that people have more choices today than they have ever had before, and I am not just talking about the booming economy. Remote work has opened a lot of doors and broke down geographical barriers.

Workers in Boston now have access to jobs in San Francisco and vice-versa. That means employers have to compete for employee attention and loyalty. 
Now this is a trend to watch!

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

This is a complicated answer, and please remember what I say next is my opinion.

First, focus as much time and energy on building company culture, recruitment branding, and retention as you do on product design, sales, and client retention.

You see most organizations talk about recruitment and retention, but rarely prioritize it. Why? Because of the limiting belief(s) that ‘everyone is replaceable’ or ‘people lack loyalty these days.’ But think about how damaging that is to a team over time.

I have seen the following scenario play out with a company we consulted for. 
Middle level employee resigns. Sales department holds small meeting to let team know what happened.

Management personnel state, ‘we will move on and be stronger as a result.’ 
A few top sales reps in return left feeling that they too would be replaceable in this system.

When all was said and done the company lost 4 out of 5 of their top producers, equating to a whopping 60% revenue loss.

The point the best way to future proof your business is to focus your attention on retention. Competition for top quality personnel will increase, but that can be an afterthought if you can hold on to the best people you have.

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 gaps between employer offers and employee expectation has to be wages.In short inflation is increasing faster than wages. Whenever this happens there is always massive discrepancies in what is being offered and what is expected.

If you cannot be more competitive on comp you can do a few things.

First be incredibly clear about growth potential; financially, positionally, and organizationally.

Second promote any unique benefits your organization has.

Third make sure you are aligned with your staff on work life balance factors.

These three things can fill the gap left by the present ‘wage-gap.’

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

This topic has been widely discussed, but I think most of the conversation has been around productivity, expectations, etc.

So in the spirit of speaking to something different, I would like to shed some light on the complexities of building company culture in the world of remote work.

In my opinion this best way to do this is to highlight key employees, accomplishments, team growth, etc. across social media.

Imagine how great an employee would feel if their families and friends saw on Facebook that their company highlighted their greatest achievements. 
It is a powerful tool that I hope the readers use!

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?

This is just my opinion, but I think we need to be more sensitive with our staff.

The pandemic has created a buildup of pressure, and everyone has been ‘pumped,’ like air in a tire with stress and anxiety. We need to create more benefits for our staff that manage mental health at work and at home. We need to build more collaborative virtual environments for work to become more communal.

Finally, I think we need to be clearer than ever with expectations for our staff; poor communication is the leading cause of anxiety, loss of production, and poor productivity.

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

Automation in conjunction with human creativity. I think when more people have access to automation tools productivity across the globe will skyrocket. As a direct result people will get more done in less time, ideally leading to more work life balance.

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 am really glad you asked this. The best way to tackle mental health at work is to acknowledge it, whereas most organizations don’t.

An executive once told me, ‘it’s not the employer’s problem to fix the personal problems of our employees.’ Wow did I disagree with this sentiment. 
We know through research that as much as 40% of employee productivity is lost due to issues ‘at home.’ That seems like an employer problem to me.

You can solve for this by investing in employee benefits that tackle mental health, mandatory days off, authentic emails/notes/calls form executive personnel to staff thanking them for their effort, and even praising your staff on social media for all to see. In short just making it an effort to make your people feel good. It’s a good way to be and it may just help your business grow.

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?

In my opinion the biggest takeaways employers need to grasp from these headlines is that they have a role to play in this to. Perhaps your readers have heard of the phrase ‘Extreme Ownership’ coined by Navy Seal, Jocko Willink. 
The premise is that regardless of circumstance growth and progress can only be made once you have taken full responsibility for everything that happens to you and because of you.

Employers, on a macro scale have done quite a poor job at this. Most are looking at their competitors and saying, ‘look they are experiencing it too… must be an unavoidable consequence right now.’ I think that is a really bad thing. Truth is there are companies out there that have the best retention in their history. Employers should be actively looking at these types of companies for a fresh new perspective on how to attract and retain talent. Just by changing their focus they could experience a much different reality. One with less turnover and more longevity.

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

  1. The first trend that I am seeing in regard to talent and work is the massive increase of opportunities for employees. Remote work has opened to the door for people in Boston to explore jobs in San Francisco. That means small town employers now have to compete with major tech firms for a prospective employee’s attention.
  2. The second trend I am observing is the incredible shift of power that has moved from the employer to prospective job seeker in regard to demands upon ‘offer.’ 2–3 years ago a job seeker got an offer and had to make a choice, accept or decline. But today we see that over 40% of job seekers are negotiating some part of the offer.
  3. Another interesting change we are seeing is the elimination of entry level jobs due to automation, and I think this will continue. For example, in the recent past you would see a large number of entry level marketing jobs. Those jobs are dwindling because you have AI tools that can run data analytics, copy writing campaigns, and build funnels. As a result, I think you will see fewer jobs that will train and more jobs requiring a baseline of expertise.
  4. The fourth trend on the horizon is… if companies wish to compete in 2022 and beyond, they will have to focus a significant amount of energy on recruitment branding. Millennials, the largest portion of the workforce, want to work toward a mission and vision they believe in. Companies need to keep this top of mind to attract and retain folks in that age bracket.
  5. The final trend I wanted to shed light on is the immense transparency in the world today. Social media is a tool that can be leveraged by employers to show the world how incredible they are, or unfortunately it can be used as a weapon to bring an organization down. Companies need to be keenly aware of this. A great example being the CEO of better.com and is now infamous ‘mass termination.’ I wish the company luck in the future when hiring again becomes necessary for them.

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?

Wow I love this question. Every morning before I start my day reading 5 quotes.

My favorite quote is, ““There is no favorable wind for the sailor who doesn’t know where to go” — Seneca.

This statement rings true or everyone. In the spirit of this conversation, the employer who does not have the goal of recruiting and retaining top talent will fail in doing so, and may catch themselves blaming the wind.

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 would LOVE to have a private breakfast with Sir Richard Branson. His vigor for life, chasing what he loves, and the way in which he lives has always been a huge motivator for me.

You see I have struggled with courage at times, and it was his autobiography that helped me take the leap into business. There is more to be cultivated from his wisdom.

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?

I would love to have them search me on LinkedIn, as I post everyday multiple times a day on these topics. 

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