Much clearer job descriptions. If the worker knows exactly what has to be accomplished and the criteria for success then there’s a big chance that they will be happy at work if they succeed.

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 Martin Ouellet.

A career entrepreneur and angel investor, Martin Ouellet always had a passion for innovation. Since founding and eventually selling his first company Taleo, the HR platform that revolutionized recruitment in the early 2000s, Martin is dedicated to investing in growth, digital transformation and the evolution of Québec’s entrepreneurship landscape. He’s currently CEO of Voilà!, a workforce management platform.

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.

As the founder of companies Taleo and Sporteo, I realized that I don’t want to be known just as a “businessman.” I’m a builder — I enjoy solving problems and thinking of innovative solutions that help businesses grow. In a recent conversation with some of my colleagues, one of them said, “The goal for every entrepreneur is to eventually sell their company,” a statement with which I completely disagree. I don’t want to create and sell companies as soon as possible to maximize earnings and move on. Moving on doesn’t excite me. Building and growing businesses to their full potential does. My current passion is to keep building Voilà! and continue creating jobs in Quebec as we grow — and have fun while doing it.

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?

This is a topic I’m greatly passionate about. At Voilà! we believe that the notion of full-time and part-time employment is outdated already. In the shift-based industry, we see how people just want to work without going through the traditional hoops and constraints that make hiring and recruiting so hard.

Another fundamental transformation will happen with the approach to productivity related to employee engagement. Hybrid work, technology tools, and the democratization of open shifts and the gig economy can prove how a labor shortage has a terrible impact on employee engagement and therefore productivity. Having too many employees is not cost-effective nor sustainable while having too few employees leads to burnout, “quiet quitting” or lowered engagement with the remaining workers. How can a manager create timesheets and schedules if they don’t even know how many effective hours are being worked by your teams? It’s like flying a plane blindfolded.

A final trend is that the workforce will rely much more on their local communities. Logistics and commuting times make it impossible to ask workers to commute in traffic across long distances to work every day. Making sure local neighborhoods are healthy and thriving with a balance between job candidates and local opportunities will be crucial to scaling up operations in any sector.

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

Employers must be able to offer their employees flexibility and meet them where they are in the workplace to future-proof their organizations. For employees, the freedom over when and how they work positively impacts their productivity and job satisfaction levels. Gen Z has transformed the manager-employee relationship with regard to communication styles and expectations. Younger people who have grown up with technology are accustomed to instant connection and are always reachable on their phones. However, older generations tend to be more comfortable with emails or phone calls from their employers, versus text messages.

To appeal to the Gen Z labor force, employers find it more efficient to reach employees right where they are — in their pockets. Employers must keep in mind however to resist the urge of sending long communications like emails and turn to direct, respectful and concise communication. Responsiveness is incredibly important.

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 for hourly employees is expecting and requiring scheduling flexibility as managers try to fill roles amidst a labor shortage. The best strategies to work through those gaps are clear: Consistent and appropriate communication in the workplace and visibility for everyone regarding open shifts and availability. No technology offers a solution for these problems if the right approach is missing. Empathy, accountability and transparency go a long way for both parties.

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

Traditional office spaces have to be reimagined as workers realize it’s possible to be productive while not chained to a desk. This expands the regions employers can hire from and also reimagines the eight-hour workday. Additionally, managerial duties will have to evolve as teams have more freedom when working remotely. New ways of forming workplace connections and monitoring productivity will need to be implemented by employers, while benefits like increased flexibility and focus on employee wellness are important in order for companies to retain these employees in a competitive talent market.

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?

In a future of work that works for everyone, society needs a reimagining of what true productivity and flexibility mean. If a working parent can still get their job done when they leave early to pick up the kids, then the workplace should accommodate accordingly. Maintaining and understanding work-life balance will have to be a priority for all managers.

An interesting demographic trend is that we’re very fortunate to live longer than our ancestors did. Pandemic times showed us how a great number of people already retired or not actively working are willing to go back to the workforce. This makes us reimagine how we do staffing and resourcing — especially for shift-based companies — why not take advantage of seniority and experience by offering an array of shifts that suit different types of workers in different stages of their life who fundamentally all want the same thing: to work.

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

I’m optimistic that increased flexibility and the ability to choose where and when to work will allow the future workforce to find opportunities that they are passionate about. Passionate and happy employees have been proven to skyrocket productivity. If employers can effectively incorporate transparency, employee wellness, and flexible scheduling, we will see a more engaged workforce and increased satisfaction in employers due to higher productivity levels.

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?

Employers are waking up to the fact that happy employees are more productive, and as we experience a cultural shift in the acknowledgment of mental health, employers are in a position to empower their workers to be their best selves. Encouraging authenticity in the workplace is a powerful tool to support employee health and well-being, in addition to offering wellness benefits that go beyond traditional health insurance, including mental health coverage, gym stipends and more. A good system in place to drive this transformation infuses these needs into part of the workplace culture.

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?

Light is being shed on bad situations that for years we have embraced as simply part of being an adult. Technological advancements allow us to imagine a better workplace and reevaluate and speak up and put a term to something that was previously known as “not being happy at work”.

Leaders are finding out that employee loyalty doesn’t come as easily as it used to because workers are more likely to leave if they can find higher pay or better benefits elsewhere. Managers need to improve company cultures to make the workplace somewhere employees enjoy spending their time, not just a place they have to be in order to make ends meet. The more we focus on retention, the more we need to look in-depth at how our workplace thrives.

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

Simply building a better workplace is not sufficient for the future of work. The top five trends to track are:

  1. Much clearer job descriptions. If the worker knows exactly what has to be accomplished and the criteria for success then there’s a big chance that they will be happy at work if they succeed.
  2. Companies will start to pay more attention to setting workers up for success, for example prioritizing employee wellness and flexible scheduling.
  3. Companies will start to reward employees more often during the year according to what they’ve accomplished, such as company recognition events and increased opportunities for promotions.
  4. Workers will start to see the bigger picture — how their individual contributions play an important role in the company’s business objectives.
  5. Companies will pivot towards socially responsible objectives. Younger workers won’t be thrilled to work for a cigarette company — they value companies that do their part to make the world a better place.

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?

A quote that resonates with me quite a bit is “Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard and succeed on purpose,” — G.K. Nielson. I find deep inspiration from those who work hard as I do not believe it is luck or chance that individuals find success, but perseverance.

This outlook has shaped my perspective by allowing me to appreciate the many obstacles my business faces and embrace past failures as they are an opportunity to learn and improve future endeavors. I’ve come to prefer taking on challenges, as it tends to be the path to success.

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.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. I would love to dig into his mind — he’s an exceptional entrepreneur and software engineer. Not only did he co-author the first widely used web browser (Mosaic) and several other companies, but he co-founded and led Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz to invest in some of the biggest name brands we know today, including SpaceX, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, and so many more.

It would be incredibly insightful to have a discussion with someone like Marc who has been so instrumental in the paradigm shift in the way people communicate today.

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.