Hiring managers will seek to build relationships with quality candidates even if they’re not actively looking for a new job.

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 Paula Mathias-Fryer.

Paula Mathias-Fryer is the Senior Director at SLO Partners, with nearly a decade of HR, apprenticeship, and recruitment experience. She also serves as a part-time faculty member at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she teaches career readiness for the College of Business focusing on career development and preparation.

Mathias-Fryer has a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Whitworth University and a SHRM CA Employment Law Credential.

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?

Before SLO Partners I was a Talent Acquisition Specialist in the software industry. I experienced the lack of diversity in the tech industry firsthand and started thinking about what actions I could take to change this.

Careers in technology offer so much — high-paying jobs, flexibility in where and how you work, a strong career trajectory, and a large influence in the way the world functions and lives. It doesn’t make sense that the industry has such a gender imbalance.

As a recruiter, I was a guest speaker at a computer science class for a local university. As I stood in front of the class, teaching them about writing a technical resume, I was astounded that 95% of the class was male. The classroom was hot and stuffy and smelled like gym socks! It was absolutely unbelievable to me that there were only a few women in the entire class.

However, that experience demonstrated how interlaced the issue is when it comes to getting more women working in the tech industry. It’s not just about women getting into those jobs, but the challenges women face in gaining training in those areas.

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?

No matter how much companies and the job market evolve over the years, the need to attract and retain great talent will always be a constant.

With that said I’m sure a lot of things will be different in 10 to 15 years. Three things I think will change are:

  • How we determine who’s qualified. Many businesses are already being a lot more open minded about the type of qualifications candidates have, and value non-traditional training paths like bootcamps.
  • Attitude and soft skills are being considered more heavily than they were in the past and I see this trend continuing. If the cost of living continues to increase faster than wages, the next generation may want to take training paths that have faster hiring routes and incur less debt.
  • New jobs. It’s likely there will be an array of new roles, particularly in the tech sector, that don’t even exist now. Occupations like Driverless Car Engineer, Cloud Computing Specialist, and Drone Operator are a few examples of jobs that are in high demand now but didn’t exist ten or fifteen years ago.

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

Pay attention to job market trends. Hiring Managers who kept pace and understood what was happening at the start of the ‘Great Resignation’ had first mover advantage. Those who moved quickly to adapt to the changing needs of the workforce were more likely to attract better candidates and retain their workers.

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?

We’re seeing a shift in how businesses define and create their culture. For many companies, providing free food or snacks and having a ping pong table in the office ticked the box of being a fun, quirky business. Going forward, a big area of focus for candidates will be their mental health. They’ll be looking for supportive environments, paying attention to retention rates and doing their research on businesses and the team, which will be easier in the future. We’re already seeing more platforms like Glassdoor emerging, where you can share feedback of colleagues and managers you’ve worked with. As well as giving candidates better insight into the companies they’re considering working for, these will provide a more comprehensive feedback loop for businesses, to help them improve their teams and practices.

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

Covid really showed us what a workforce can achieve when they’re not being supervised 100% of the time in an office. People achieved a lot, if not more, when they were able to have breakfast with their families instead of commuting to work, or when they could take breaks to exercise or get some fresh air on a walk. A lot of people thrived being able to integrate work with more aspects of their life and would like to hold on to that. Looking ahead, businesses who understand this and strike the right balance between remote work and office time will reconcile those gaps.

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?

The pandemic has disrupted the labor market in many ways. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, more than half of low-wage workers may need to shift to occupations into higher wage brackets, with a need to acquire different and more advanced skills to remain employed and stay relevant in the market. COVID-19 has led to the ‘Great Resignation’, which saw millions of Americans quit their jobs to pursue their passions.

We need to do several things to make sure the workplace is working for everyone. We need more accessible and affordable training programs that create talent pipelines that are currently in demand or will be in the near future.

We also need to have an open mind of what success looks like in the workplace. It used to mean a full office with people working set hours. Now it might look like focusing on deliverables, as opposed to how or where people are completing them.

The pandemic also brought the issue of childcare to the forefront of our attention. Often, especially women, parents are supposed to work like they don’t have kids and raise kids like they don’t work. This needs to change. We need to shift from thinking about how to create a successful work/life ‘balance’ to how to create a successful work/life integration.

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

That the current efforts to create more diversity in the workforce, such as women in tech, will prevail and become the norm. Also, that companies and workers will continue to prioritize mental health, making healthy, positive workplace cultures the norm.

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?

We’ll see a more ‘top-down’ approach from businesses prioritizing mental health. Managers and senior staff will lead by example, whether that’s taking their allocated PTO days, truly logging off on weekends and vacations, or taking breaks during the day to get fresh air or exercise. We’ll also see mental health support in reviews, team meetings and one-on-one catch ups. In addition to tracking goals and reviewing work, managers will check how their team is feeling in general about work. This will enable companies to identify and support workers who are feeling stressed, anxious, or unhappy.

We’ll also see companies enacting policies that support people’s home life. Businesses will offer employees flexibility and benefits to support caring for children, parents, or pets. Other examples could be hobbies or personal goals they’re pursuing.

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?

We’ve seen a huge shift in how candidates are navigating their career. Workers aren’t afraid to move jobs that are more attractive in terms of pay, culture, or their interests. To attract and retain the best talent, companies need to take a holistic view of what matters to candidates. Right now, that’s flexibility, work/life integration, family friendly workplaces and mental health. In the next five years, this list will change. Like everything else in business — your products, your customers, your logo, make sure your hiring practices are also evolving to meet the changing needs of the workforce.

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

  1. Hiring for attitude.
  • More hiring managers will hire with an attitude-first mindset.
  • Businesses will screen candidates that have the right attitude for the role, team, and company.
  • Skills can be developed or taught later. This strategy can also give established employees the ability to grow through mentoring and teaching.
  • Employers will look for people whose goals and values align with the mission and values of the organization. This will ensure the fit is right, for the candidate and the business and help with retention.
  • SLO Partners has used this method to select applicants for its bootcamps. Their graduates often become stand-out candidates, known for being self-starters with coveted soft skills.

2. Using non-traditional talent pipelines.

  • Businesses will cast wider nets when looking for talent. Examples include engaging local community groups that have unemployed or underemployed individuals, joining an industry council or building relationships with bootcamps.
  • These are all ways companies will be able to proactively find talent as opposed to waiting for candidates to come to them.
  • Non-traditional talent pipelines will also produce a more diverse workforce.

3. Inclusive talent pipelines.

  • Businesses will refine their job postings to ensure they’re not alienating groups of applicants.
  • Women, for instance, read job advertisements differently. If they don’t satisfy 95% of the job requirements, they don’t apply.
  • It takes a concerted effort to try to attract women to apply for jobs. Recruiters can use words like ‘adaptable’, ‘collaborate’ and ‘create’ for example, to make a job description more interesting and open to interpretation.
  • Businesses will also adopt benefits and perks to attract different applicant groups. Remote working and flexible hours are things businesses looking to attract more women will consider.

4. A larger focus on mental health.

  • Mental health will be an ever-growing focus for employees.
  • According to Microsoft’s latest Work Trends Index, fifty-three percent of workers said they’re more likely to prioritize their health and well-being over work, compared to before the pandemic.
  • This will be one of the biggest cultural shifts in the workplace over the next few years. It will impact most areas of the workplace, including internal communication, team dynamics, management, benefits, policies, design, and events.

5. Playing the long game.

  • Hiring managers will seek to build relationships with quality candidates even if they’re not actively looking for a new job.
  • Not only will this enable companies to target their ideal candidates, but it will also improve diversity, as employers can directly target groups they’re looking to include in their workforce.
  • Businesses can also advise on training a candidate may need, help them find mentors and provide guidance on other matters that will support their career.

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?

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” — Eckhart Tolle.

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.

Kim Scott is a leader I’ve always admired. I’ve learned a great deal from her about effective management, which has proved very useful in my own career.

I also like the approach she takes to building relationships with employees — by embracing necessary conversations that are not always easy but help develop skills and increase success within a team.

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?

[email protected] and https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulamathiasfryer/

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