Remote work is here to stay. The country was forced into remote work arrangements throughout the last two years and that experience has shown employers and employees that the world doesn’t end when employees work from home, but there are ways of improving the arrangement for everyone.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t only 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 for them. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most to them. We’re speaking to successful thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works for everyone.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Marcus Wilbers.

Marcus Wilbers has a broad and unique perspective on issues facing employers. I practiced law for seven years, focusing on employment law, before developing an employee benefit and HR consulting group as part of an employee benefit brokerage firm. I combined those disciplines to create a Professional Employer Organization, which merged with Tandem HR in December 2020.

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.

Tough question. I think the first is working with my grandpa on his farm. He raised cattle in central Missouri and worked harder than I’ve ever seen anyone work, day after day. That instilled a work ethic in me and gave me an appreciation for the dignity and humanity of all types of work. The second was in college. I went on spring break my sophomore year and got in a bit of trouble. That experience made me wake up and see that I was wasting a great opportunity to define my future. I finally got serious about school, did well for the next two years and continued my education in law school.

What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now?

The workforce will be changing 10–15 years from now, just like it’s currently changing. It’s always been in a constant state of change. If you don’t believe me, watch Mad Men.

What do you predict will be different?

I think it will be much more flexible. Most workers will have what we now consider atypical workweeks — they’ll work different hours and days of the week from different locations. Work will be more of an activity than a dedicated lifestyle.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations? What would you tell employers who don’t want to adapt to meet changing trends?

If you want to stay ahead of workforce trends, listen to your employees and prospective employees. View your work environment as a collaboration with your employees, rather than something you dictate to them. And if you don’t want to adapt, consider what you have accomplished with your employees. Now consider if you could have accomplished that without them, or with a team that’s half as effective. Those are going to be your options if you dig your heels in and refuse to adapt. Businesses are constantly adapting to the way they do business; that same logic applies to the way they employ people.

What do you predict will be the biggest workplace 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?

Unfortunately, I think the biggest gap will continue to be the rising cost of medical insurance. Employees have become accustomed to having access to health insurance through their employers and the cost of medical care in the U.S. is constantly rising. There’s a limit to what employers can provide, especially when they don’t have control over the outcome. To bridge the gap between employees’ expectations and employers’ ability to pay, employers should be intentional about education and communication. Explain to employees the importance of health insurance and the market costs of it. Teach them how to choose a benefit plan that works for their situation and how to use it effectively. Transparency is important, too — show employees what the employer contributions are for each coverage tier. Lastly, look for ways to drive down health care costs wherever possible, such as utilizing an HSA, high deductible plan, or risk pooling with other employers.

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

That experience has shown everyone — employers and employees — the pros and cons of working from home. Employers can no longer simply say “no” to remote work situations without more of a justification. And employees can’t feign ignorance as to remote work situations. We were all forced to have a dialogue about remote working arrangements last year. The lessons we learned from it will stick with us. On the whole, I think it opens the door to flexible work arrangements for many employers.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you think are necessary to support a future of work that supports everyone?

Recognition that people are more than their jobs. That sounds like a simple concept but it has far-reaching implications. Employers have a responsibility to their employees to not just pay them a wage in exchange for work, but to support them as people. That means clearly communicating expectations but also recognizing the realities that employees deal with, like childcare gaps, physical and mental health issues and family needs. Employers can’t fix those things or take on those responsibilities for employees, but they can be flexible, supportive and understanding as employees work through them. And the only way to know and understand the issues employees are facing is to talk to them as people, not simply workers.

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

The openness, creativity and resilience of millennials. Millennials have gotten a bad rap as being soft or freeloaders, but nothing could be further from the truth. They have gone through two significant recessions while juggling unprecedented student loan debt, the collapse of a housing bubble and the creation of another, and stagnant wage growth (until recently). Yet Millennials are generally more socially conscious, tech-savvy, and purpose driven than their peers. They also tend to value work/life balance and corporate responsibility more than financial rewards and will find a new employer if their values are not reflected. That feedback creates rewards and consequences businesses will internalize over time.

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 employees’ mental health and wellbeing?

The fact that mental health is a discussion topic is itself a huge achievement. For a long time, those issues were avoided in workplace conversations at all costs. And employees who struggled with mental health issues were isolated and stigmatized as a result. What strategies do I see employers offering? That’s hard to say because mental health is such a broad topic. But I think the growing recognition of its importance and impact on people underscores the need for empathy and understanding. Tactical resources like Employer Assistance Programs (EAPs) are invaluable as a way for employers to show they care by providing a resource while maintaining a professional relationship by engaging a third party to provide support confidentially.

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?

A recent McKinsey & Company article noted that the top three factors employees quit their jobs are: they didn’t feel valued by their organizations, they didn’t feel valued by their managers, and that they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work. The common denominator in all of these is a lack of empathy and understanding. Employees want to feel a connection with their manager and organization, and they want to know their work matters — they don’t want to feel like a cog in the wheel. Instead, they want to feel like part of a team and employers need to be deliberate about creating those connections even before the employee’s first day.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

Remote work is here to stay. The country was forced into remote work arrangements throughout the last two years and that experience has shown employers and employees that the world doesn’t end when employees work from home, but there are ways of improving the arrangement for everyone.

Minimum wage will be market driven, not legislatively mandated. There has been a lot of debate about raising the federal minimum wage over the last few years. But it hasn’t happened, and wages are still growing. Why? Cities and states began raising minimum wages, which created economic pressure on employers. Then, during the pandemic, employees stopped taking jobs that didn’t provide a living wage. And guess what? Employers raised starting wages.

HR functions will be outsourced. HR has always been a rapidly-changing field, but the past few years have been especially head-spinning. The ACA (aka “Obamacare”), gig economy, PPP, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and ARP have all significantly changed the way employers interact with employees. The level of expertise needed to stay on top of these changes (not to mention the changing nature of the workforce) has increased significantly. As a result, employers will be more inclined to hire an external resource for professional help.

What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote? How has this quote shaped your perspective on work and personal time?

The one I think about quite often is from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It helps me remember that relationships are more than just words and actions — they are built on connections and shared experiences. It also reminds me that I can make an impact on people by focusing on their perspective and feelings.

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.

Chef José Andrés. He’s a chef that’s famous not only for his gourmet food but for his organization World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that travels the world providing food to those in need after natural disasters. His passion and love of humanity is inspiring. Plus, if we’re having a meal, I’d like him to prepare it so I’m sure the food will be great.

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?





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