A deep focus on innovation as more and more organizations strive to be forward looking and solution-oriented in the face of changing economic conditions, work conditions and customer expectations.

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 Michael LeBlanc, CEO of FCT.

Michael is a passionate leader focused on fostering a positive experience for customers and employees. From a young age, he always had an “anything is possible” attitude and believed that success is achieved through hard work and determination. He leads Canada’s largest title insurance, default solutions and real estate-related services company, in addition to First American’s international group.

As CEO, he manages all FCT businesses across Canada with a network of highly engaged employees. In his role as president of the International Division of First American, he is responsible for all non-US businesses, including those in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and South Korea.

Michael is a leading force in ensuring that FCT lives and breathes customer centricity and has been at the heart of FCT’s growth over the past decade. He is deeply dedicated to delivering the highest quality of service to customers across the real estate lifecycle and believes that can be achieved by investing in progressive and innovative products, services and solutions.

He believes that employees must be empowered to be great in what they do. He actively works towards fostering a supportive and inclusive environment that gives employees the opportunity to be great. Under his direction, FCT has been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Workplaces for eight consecutive years (2015–2022).

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. 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?

The workforce is continuously evolving, especially in recent years. A great deal of this evolution stems from innovative technologies that have enabled organizations to conduct business more efficiently than ever before. This isn’t going to slow down any time soon, and technology will continue to play a key role in how our organization — and every industry — continues to evolve.

However, I think it’s also important to note that behind these innovations are great minds and even greater teams. While technology will be integral to future growth for organization and industries alike, employees will remain at the core of organizational success and workplaces will remain heavily dependent on their thoughtful ideas to continue to innovate and meet customers’ needs.

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

My number one piece of advice would be to think about the organization as a whole. Every decision you make at an international level and every conversation you have at a personal level play a role in how your organization operates. If you want to be an innovative, forward-looking organization — and want to ensure a future for your organization — you need to take great care in all of those elements, no matter how big or small.

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?

There is always the potential for gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect moving forward. However, solutions can be found when the team communicates regularly.

The most essential component in this communication is transparency. First, transparency of employees regarding their experience in the workplace and personal goals. As leaders, we need to be open to and aware of employees’ observations and opinions to help find a balance. Doing so will ensure that employees feel heard and valued, while also remaining focused on necessary business objectives. This helps create a level of respect and trust between employers and their employees.

Secondly, transparency is key on the organization’s part and, more specifically, for its leaders. It’s important that organizations — and leaders — have open discussions with employees about the goals of the organization to ensure they understand the rationale for business decisions that affect them. These discussions can also include business plans, as team members that understand where the organization is trying to go are better positioned to help it get there.

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

It’s undeniable that the pandemic altered how we live and work. While this has been a difficult, there is value in understanding that the future is not linear. As a society, we are becoming more open to the challenges that individuals face and, as a result, are better equipped to support our colleagues and peers.

As we move forward, I think I’m most optimistic about how technology and people can work together. The pandemic has shown us just how valuable both are, and I’m excited to see how much more we can accomplish together. There has been so much innovation and collaboration when it comes to technology and the role it plays in real estate and financial services over the past two years, and I can’t wait to see — and to contribute to — what comes next.

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?

First, it’s important that employers recognize that employee wellbeing has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. In terms of support strategies, the more innovative and personalized, the better.

To be able to provide such strategies, organizations need to start by understanding what resources would be most helpful for employees. An effective way to determine this is to administer employee surveys and research the solutions out there that align with the needs expressed.

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.

Trend one — a focus on industry collaboration and problem solving. The pandemic shed light on some of the key pain points in all industries. This has turned many organizations’ focus to working together to solve such issues, which I don’t see ending any time soon.

Trend two — continued technology advancement as the world continues to adjust to hybrid expectations and embrace new technologies.

Trend three — a deep focus on innovation as more and more organizations strive to be forward looking and solution-oriented in the face of changing economic conditions, work conditions and customer expectations.

Trend four — inclusivity, as it encourages collaboration and diverse ideas — the key to successful innovation and forward-thinking in organizations.

Trend five — a holistic and transparent approach to business and wellness. The pandemic highlighted just how much one aspect of business is tied to another. It’s clear now to leaders that every single person and element of an organization matters, and that they all impact one another. As we look forward, more and more businesses will work to be holistic in thinking and transparent in their approach to teams.

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 I always turn to for an important life lesson is, “when presented with a challenge, focus on how we can solve it rather than why we can’t.” This provides an important reminder to reframe challenges into opportunities to solve problems and grow knowledge and experience.

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 encourage readers to connect with me on LinkedIn. I frequently post my thoughts and commentary on the real estate industry, technology and how to be an effective leader. I’m always looking for people to engage with.

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