Human-centred workplace culture — we will be seeing more and more companies that put people first. There will be a shift towards a workplace culture where employees’ health and the state of their well-being are primal to the company. Not just doing things to tick boxes but truly and genuinely caring.
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 Naama Zusman.
Naama Zusman is a Life & Career Coach who empowers people to answer the call of their hearts, trust their wisdom and pursue the work and experiences that will bring them deep fulfillment. In her time as a coach, she has witnessed countless people live life following other people’s rules, choosing a path that isn’t fully aligned, and wondering, “Is this it?” She believes we are all meant to find out what that is and take small and big leaps of faith to get there: leaving behind a 10-year career for something new, pursuing a creative venture, starting a business, unapologetically being your whole, authentic self at work and in life. Naama is passionate about supporting her clients to honor what they want, pursue it with confidence, and build the resilience needed to ride the evolution of their lives and careers.
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.
The first life experience that shaped me goes all the back to the first 8 years of my life — growing up in Nigeria, Africa, and then moving back with my family to a small village in the center of Israel. I believe it’s thanks to this early experience that I have developed the curiosity and courage to travel the world. I have lived on 3 different continents, 4 different countries, and 7 different cities. While moving and living abroad comes with challenges, it’s an experience that builds you up. I’ve built so much resilience through it at such a young age. It taught me the gift of embracing change and welcoming the new. It taught me to be adaptable, think creatively, the ability to enter new situations and assess them quickly and the art of leveraging transitions.
The second experience was a pivotal moment followed by a decision I made when I was 23. One that changed the trajectory of my life. Before that moment I thought I had it all figured out. I was living in the center of Tel Aviv, not far from the college where I was about to begin my studies. I had a good-paying, flexible job that I was planning to combine with my studies. I had a car to get me to work and a bike to get me to college. Until I met the person who would 7 years later, become my husband. I decided to leave my perfectly sorted out life and follow him to The Netherlands, where I ended up studying Fine Arts. Why was this moment so significant? I didn’t choose the path that felt easy. I chose the path that felt right. While my mind gave me a laundry list of why nots and what-ifs, my heart told me something else. I followed my heart and never looked back. I chose to be the author of my own story instead of being the passenger, letting fear and shoulds drive me. It’s what grew my confidence and enabled me, 6 years later, to make a pivot in my professional life.
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?
In 2016 I started leading wellbeing workshops for organisations and companies about life-work integration, mindfulness, stress management and more. Again and again, I saw employees getting excited, inspired and motivated to take action at the end of the workshop, but then a month or so later, not following through. I suggested longer-term more consistent coaching support to really facilitate positive change but it was too progressive at the time.
While healthy food bars, gyms and monthly wellness workshops are all fantastic, more and more companies these days are starting to understand that in order to keep employees happy, and therefore more engaged and productive, there is a deeper change that needs to occur.
I believe that the next 10–15 years will bring a more individualised, personalised and flexible approach towards employees. This means understanding what employees need to truly thrive at an individual level, putting in real effort to tailor and adapt their job/role and providing support where there is a desire for growth. This requires empathetic, collaborative leadership. I believe workplaces will become more human-centred.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Truthfully, my advice is quite simple — LISTEN. Listen and create a work environment where employees feel heard and feel safe to address issues that are impacting their mental health, wellbeing and work satisfaction. In my time as a coach, I have worked with hundreds of clients who were either burned-out, overstressed or unfulfilled seeking to change jobs. More often than not, these issues could have been prevented with the right kind of support, which all stems from listening. I have also worked with clients who don’t feel like they are in their “dream job” but stay because their needs are continually being met, and they feel heard and supported.
Truly listen, don’t just do things to tick the boxes. Listen because you genuinely care. That is how employers can future-proof their organizations.
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?
About halfway through 2021, I noticed something interesting happening with my coaching clients. All my clients wanted support around their working life and career. Whether it’s pursuing a creative venture/side hustle, transitioning into more fulfilling work, redesigning an existing career or recovering from burnout, they all wanted to experience more meaning, fulfilment, ease & balance. They were ready to re-evaluate, reimagine and reinvent their work and life. Ultimately, they wanted a life and career that feels like a reflection of who they are.
The pandemic forced us to reflect and take a hard look at our lives. It had highlighted things we couldn’t see when we were operating on autopilot. It highlighted what we care about most and invited a great deal of us to re-evaluate our day jobs, to examine whether they are aligned with what we value and how we want to impact the world. For many, the past year has brought a deep realization that they have been ‘living to work’ for a very long time. I think this may be the moment in history that people are shifting from the ‘live to work’ paradigm to a ‘work to live’ paradigm.
Many employees who have been prioritizing work, success, a job title and a salary over their health, wellbeing, and relationships are waking up to the truth — that it’s not sustainable. The loss, the hardships and the uncertainty the last two years have brought made people think more about the preciousness of life and many are craving more meaning, growth and self-discovery.
That is where the gap begins; a lack of understanding and care as to what a person needs to thrive as a whole. A real need and desire is emerging for people — to live a more balanced and meaningful life.
The solution to reconciling these gaps is to create a human-centred heart-driven workplace with a holistic approach towards individuals and the business itself. Workplaces that will succeed to understand these needs and desires from within and make it a goal to truly foster them, will be the thriving companies of the future.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
We know that people who feel that they have some control over their day, which often is the case when people are working from home, experience significantly more work satisfaction than those who don’t feel like they have any autonomy. We also know that human beings are wired to connect, to be part of a community, to feel like they belong. It’s vital for our well-being. Workplaces that will succeed to create the right balance between the freedom and flexibility of working from anywhere while still creating a community and deep connection of employees with their coworkers will win.
On the flip side, we are seeing more burnout as a result of people not having enough separation between work and home and feeling pressured to be constantly ‘on’. These issues need to be addressed at the level of the company/organization — communicating and encouraging employees to ‘sign off’ and providing tools and practices to support life-work integration.
“Working From Home” has also taken this notion of ‘bring your whole self to work’ to a whole new level. The lines between how people show up at work and outside of work inevitably started dissolving as a result of people working from their living rooms, drinking coffee from their favorite mug, being interrupted by their pets wanting their attention at the middle of a zoom meeting, etc. It encourages more authentic conversations between coworkers and allows deeper connections. Also, when people feel free to be themselves, they feel more energized and engaged. I hope we will be seeing people feeling freer to express themselves and share their ideas in their workplaces as a result.
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?
Without a doubt, the number one change necessary is redefining the way our society sees success — money and status, at the expense of our health and wellbeing. The pandemic forced people to take a hard look at the ways they’ve been living and working. Many have realized that their life is at odds with their values and desires. That they have been making choices based on how they thought their lives should look like, rather than what they truly want out of their lives.
Work that works for everyone is one that is leaning on a new definition of success that is more balanced, meaningful and sustainable, one that allows a shift from external motivations towards more intrinsic motivations.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
Humans, it seems, are wired to find satisfaction by adding value through effort. Thus, work has long been intertwined with our identity and our understanding of our role in the world. But the balance between work and life in our society has been distorted, not only on a practical level (the amount of time we spend working) but also on a mindset level (the mental and emotional energy work takes in our lives).
I want to believe that the Great Resignation is a Great Awakening that brings the balance back. In his article on Workism, Derek Thompson reminds us that “work is not life’s product, but its currency” –my greatest source of optimism is that this currency gets to be a meaningful one, too. I believe that work can be a space that nourishes us in a deeper way, that work can be a place where we find meaning and where we grow and discover ourselves.
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?
As a certified Health Coach, licensed Career Coach and Yoga Teacher, I see so many things employers can do to improve and optimize their employees’ health and well-being.
To start with, companies need to take a look at their company culture and check whether what they stand for and value is aligned with their actions. Implementing steps such as company-wide time off and encouraging healthy boundaries around communication outside of work hours would be of great benefit.
Many of the mental health issues people are suffering from — lack of sleep, overstress, anxiety, burnout — are a result of excessive thinking, worry and overanalyzing, which has gotten worse through the pandemic. People spend a lot of time in their heads and for the most aren’t aware of their repetitive thoughts and their impact on their mental state. In our mind-centered culture, most of us consider the body just as ‘a vehicle that takes the head to meetings’. Bringing in practices to help people become more aware of their thinking and practices that help create and nurture a body-mind connection is of paramount importance.
Finally, hiring a coach who can help create a well-being strategy that includes working closely with employees on all aspects of their well-being will be one of the most comprehensive ways to enhance employees’ health and well-being.
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?
People are waking up to the importance of living lives that are more balanced, sustainable and meaningful. For many, as a result of being faced with the fragility of life, the pandemic itself has morphed into an opportunity for renewal and reinvention. The bottom line — many people aren’t satisfied with their work and they are willing to take the risk and leave their jobs. Leaders need to start asking themselves questions such as –
Am I fostering a meaningful, sustainable, and flexible approach to our work environment?
Am I leading with humanity, diversity and inclusion?
Am I contributing to the well-being and mental health of my employees?
Am I walking my talk in terms of work-life balance?
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Human-centred workplace culture — we will be seeing more and more companies that put people first. There will be a shift towards a workplace culture where employees’ health and the state of their well-being are primal to the company. Not just doing things to tick boxes but truly and genuinely caring.
- Personalized, individualized and flexible approach towards employees — understanding what individuals need to truly thrive and putting in real effort to support them in different ways. We will see more ‘job crafting’ — tailoring and adapting employee’s jobs/roles — whether it’s what they do in their day to day at work, who they interact with at work, how their day/week looks like or how they see their role and their impact.
- Purpose-driven workplaces — statistics show that employees who derive meaning from work experience higher job satisfaction and are more likely to stay at their organization. Creating a purpose-driven workplace is essential for employee engagement and happiness. The loss, the hardships and the uncertainty the last two years have brought made people think more about the preciousness of life and many are craving more meaning, growth and self-discovery. Now more than ever, employees want to work for organizations that bring meaning to their everyday lives.
- Extensive well-being, mental health and personal development programs — companies will embrace the idea that work can be a place where people grow, evolve and discover themselves. We will see more workplaces hiring coaches and mentors to support individuals with their well-being and personal development journeys.
- Deep listening and trained leaders — we will see more leaders who are committed to their own personal development and understand the importance of bringing it into their leadership role. We will see leaders who are working on developing their listening skills and as a result, we will see more workplaces where people feel heard and seen. We will see more ‘leaders’ and fewer ‘managers’.
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?
It’s hard to choose one, but I think one of the main things the pandemic has taught us is to really be in the present because we don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Not just to live life but to be ALIVE in our lives. Not to merely survive but to truly thrive. It’s about creating a life that allows us to notice and appreciate simple moments and also allows us to grow, expand and evolve. The beautiful quote by Mary Oliver truly reflects the essence of this: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
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 love Brené Brown’s work — she has been a long-time inspiration for me. She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and I’d love to get the chance to talk with her about all of it.
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.