Have Town Hall sessions and open meetings. Listen to what your employees are telling you. Please encourage them to ask questions openly without fear of being judged. As leaders, we have to let them know that you are figuring out stuff as well but are here to support your employees and navigate this challenging phase together.
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 Raj Subrameyer.
Raj Subrameyer is a tech career strategist focusing on helping people to land their dream job and become successful leaders. He has given multiple TEDx talks and is a sought-after speaker at various conferences and has been featured in numerous TV news segments, podcasts and publications, including CBS, FOX, NPR, NBC, Entrepreneur, CEOWorld Magazine, CIO and Authority Magazine, Career Addict, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success and The Good Men Project. You can find more info about how he serves people through his website — www.rajsubra.com.
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.
I grew up as a shy, introverted kid in a conservative middle-class family living in the Southern part of India. I was the average Joe, well in India, the average “Raj” since that’s one of the most common names, and focusing on academics was not my thing. I had other interests and passions, such as playing outdoor sports and hanging out with friends. By the way, I was never really into indoor games, including video games; yes, I am a rare exception for being a nerd.
I started developing this inferiority complex at a young age, believing that I was not good enough. And this led to horrible feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. After 20 years of false identity, I decided to take control of my life because of a trigger event.
Since then, I have transformed my life from a shy, introverted kid earning a minimum salary into an international keynote speaker, author, and tech career strategist, building a six-figure business. I have helped numerous other people discover their zone of genius, find their dream job, launch their businesses and become successful leaders.
When you have an action plan, do the work and become consistent, you see opportunities. This attitude has helped me see exponential growth in my personal life and career, and now I teach the same learnings to my clients.
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?
Currently in the post-pandemic era we are seeing a lot of trends.
- Remote work becoming a new flexible lifestyle and employees wanting to work for a company that embraces this thinking.
- People retrospecting their personal lives and careers and realizing their true passion.
- Employees are retooling their skillset to make themselves more marketable and thus resulting in the mass exodus we are seeing with people moving companies.
These trends will continue for the next 10 -15 years as the paradigm of performing work has significantly changed.
The things that will be different are:
- Companies embracing remote work and considering it has a normal way business is performed.
- They will think about different ways to increase employee retention, which includes an increase in salary, performance bonuses, and encouraging a healthy work-life balance.
- Employees will want more from their job apart from just monetary benefits, which includes a sense of purpose and working for a bigger cause.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
There are six key things employers have to start doing to reduce retention and future proof their organizations:
- Continue flexible work arrangements.
Yes, offices are opening up, but most workers have embraced this new flexible lifestyle. Remote working during COVID has become the normal way of life. You can work from any remote location and still be productive in the comfort of your home (or your vacation spot since people have started to travel). All you need is a laptop with a camera, good headphones, and an internet connection.
Employers need to keep in mind that employees save time and money by not commuting to offices for hours. This leads to more energy to do creative work and a better life balance, which is the key to remaining happy at your job.
2. Introduce programs to support employees where they are.
Do not force employees to come to work. Instead, give them options of what they would like to do. Hear each of your team members out and make a note of their preferences and how you can reasonably accommodate them.
Based on their preferences, develop a solution that works for both you and the employees. For example, offer them the option to come in for important meetings and events, and the rest of the time, they have the flexibility of working remotely. They can choose to come into the office as they see fit and as the company needs them.
3. Train leaders to adapt to the new way of working.
Leaders play a major role in the rest of the team’s job happiness. One of the main reasons the Great Resignation is happening is insufficient training for leaders to handle this transition from remote work to in-person work. To equip your teams for success, provide leaders with training and support and help them figure out an optimum solution for their projects and teams.
4. Have end of the year team bonding activities.
The pandemic has been stressful for everyone. Your employees have been through a lot. Host “safe” company outings and help rejuvenate their mind, body, and soul. Even though remote work may be an employee’s preference now, most of them are eager for human interactions (yes, even the introverts).
5. Reward employees for their hard work during the pandemic
Most of us tried our best to balance work and life and stay productive. Unfortunately, not a lot of employers are noticing this.
If you want to retain talent and cultivate a positive environment, consider rewarding employees with bonuses and promotions. If budget is an issue, then at the very least, send them a thank you note for the hard work they have shown during the pandemic.
Have Town Hall sessions and open meetings.
Listen to what your employees are telling you. Please encourage them to ask questions openly without fear of being judged. As leaders, we have to let them know that you are figuring out stuff as well but are here to support your employees and navigate this challenging phase together.
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 are two main areas where there will continue to be gaps between employers and employees. The first one is salary expectations. After the COVID pandemic, organizations have become more competitive by offering “the job switchers” and “the job stayers” a considerable increase in their base salary by 4%-5%. But the problem is that all the companies offer similar pay increases. So the employees are expecting more salary and the employers will find it hard to match these expectations.
Secondly, hybrid work will be the future of work where employees come into the office during certain days of the week and work remotely for the remaining days. The number of days the employees will have to come into the office will be open for discussion. There is no right answer for this; it all depends on the company and the type of work needed.
In both cases, open and honest discussions would help to reduce the gap. The bottom line is both parties are trying to come to a win-win situation, and one does not have to lose for the other to win.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
People have come to realize that you can work from any remote location and still be productive in the comfort of your home (or your vacation spot since people have started to travel). Remote working is the new flexible style, and it is not a perk anymore but a requirement for employees.
Instead of organizations fighting against this, they should embrace this new way of work. They have to provide the necessary tools and support for employees to perform their work to the best of their abilities and have programs to build a sense of camaraderie between team members.
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?
First of all, we all have to embrace the fact that turnover will continue to exist, and the only thing companies can do is try to reduce them. The number of “lifers” (people who worked for the same company for 10–20+ years) will be significantly less as the job market has become more competitive than ever.
Secondly, the pandemic has given a chance for people to retrospect their lives and realize that they need more from their job than just monetary benefits. They need a sense of belonging, better work-life balance, more support for people with families, and want to work for a company that serves people and is for a good cause.
For all these things to happen, change in policies have to come from the government and organizations to adapt to this new normal. The way we thought about the job market till about a few years ago does not hold good anymore.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I feel there has never been a better era than now regarding how work is performed. Gone are the days when people were forced to come into the office. The pandemic has shifted this paradigm, and we have enough proof that even government and consulting jobs can be performed remotely while meeting expectations. This has broken down the barriers for many who had to commute long distances to work, spend long hours or even days away from family, and suffer burnout.
Also, more employees have started to tap into their entrepreneurial mindset and start side hustles during the pandemic with all the saved time. This will continue to grow in the future, and people will start to feel more fulfilled in their personal lives and careers.
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 have realized that they have to support their employees when it comes to mental and physical health, especially when turnover is really high. So they have to turn to innovative strategies to keep them happy and help them have a better work-life balance. Some of them could include:
- Giving employees control of their work hours and helping them prioritize their personal life around it.
- Having online wellness classes either as part of work or online subscription that includes meditation, exercise, yoga, and other stress-relieving activities.
- Supporting them by providing the necessary tools and resources to perform their work effectively and removing obstacles, and finally, increasing paid vacation days for employees to spend more time with their families without any obligations to attend to work.
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?
These headlines clearly indicate that companies have to adapt to the new normal. Some of the processes they may have followed in the previous decades to run their business may not hold good anymore. It is time to shift the mindset and think out of the box to stay relevant in the industry.
This would involve taking time to rethink how to handle distributed teams, reduce employee turnover, align company goals with new ways of doing business, have more 1:1 meetings with their employees to ensure their personal and professional well being, have more town hall meetings to increase transparency into companies performance and much more.
Leaders can take this time to re-organize their businesses, rethink their vision and goals, get the right skillsets for their needs and do a retrospective to eliminate wasted effort, time and money in the future.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Hybrid approach to work
In the post-pandemic era, companies will adopt a hybrid approach to work. Employees will have an option to work remotely on certain days of the week and come into the office for the rest of the days. They will control how to plan their work hours and get their job done. This would involve open discussions and clear communication of employees’ work hours to the entire team. For example, if someone wants to work from 8 AM — 2 PM and then 5 PM to 7 PM, this should be clearly communicated to the team and agreed upon beforehand to prevent confusion.
2. Zoom Fatigue
With more people working remotely, the need for more virtual meetings will become a necessity. This means there will be more Zoom meetings and will start affecting people’s mental health. With great flexibility like remote work also comes its own consequences.
But there are ways to navigate this situation. For example, companies can have a policy that only a certain number of virtual meetings are allowed per day, or certain days of the week will be meeting-free days to focus on work and get things done.
Also, spending the first five minutes of every zoom meeting with ice breaker conversations like “What is each one looking forward to this week?” or “What is one good thing that happened today?” helps to humanize this whole process.
3. Employee Turnover
As much as companies bring different policies to reduce employee turnover, this is inevitable. As more people realize their true potential, they are taking time to retool their skillsets and make themselves more marketable. This means they will constantly be on the lookout for better opportunities that will result in higher pay and better work-life balance.
Companies have to realize this and support their employees irrespective of the outcomes. They need to think about the present and hope their practices will help employees realize how good it is already for them. So don’t fight this but embrace it.
4. Boomerang bonuses
More organizations will have special “boomerang bonuses” encouraging past coworkers to rejoin the company at higher pay. They will embrace “boomerang employees” as they eventually contribute to the company’s growth in many different ways. For one, they learn new skills outside the company and bring them back to your company, and most of all, they have shown their passion for working for a company they love, which is why they came back in the first place.
5. Working for a purpose
In the past, for many employees, work was about the monetary benefits, perks, and different initiatives to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. But with the pandemic, people have had a lot of time to retrospect their lives deeply and have realized work is more than just these materialistic things. It is about having a sense of purpose and being proud to change the world and add value.
Employees will move companies until they land a job that meets these criteria. So, companies have to rethink their mission statement and modify their product roadmaps to solve complex problems that could eventually make the world a better place. This will, in turn, help reduce employee turnover and attract fresh talent.
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?
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
We live in a results-oriented world. Everyone judges your success based on the results. If you get great results, you are labeled “Great.” If you get bad results, you are labeled “Loser.” The next thing we do is take these labels to our hearts and let them define who we are.
This is the problem for the majority of the people. They are so focused on the results that they forget that the journey is what matters irrespective of the results.
- The journey helps you learn things that you may never have learned before.
- The journey makes you better than who you were before you started it.
- The journey gives you a taste of reality by analyzing your own skillsets, mindset, and grit you have in you.
- The journey helps you see the possibilities in life.
So the next time you work on a task don’t think about the results but think about the things you will learn because of the task. This totally changes the way you do things and makes you more motivated to achieve positive results. It is the truth of 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 would love to meet Dwayne Johnson, famous by the name “The Rock.” His rise from being a wrestler as part of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and becoming one of the top actors and entrepreneurs in Hollywood is inspiring. But the thing that is more motivating for me is his continued focus on his physical and mental health. He works out every single day and talks about it on Instagram. Just seeing his videos makes me want to take care of my own health.
If I meet him in person, I would like to ask him how he juggles multiple things at any given time and still manages to always keep smiling and sticking to his workout routine.
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?
My hangout spot is LinkedIn (@rajsubra) and Twitter (@epsilon11). All my life’s work can be found on my website — www.rajsubra.com.
I love connecting with people, so hit me up!
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.