Career Development — In this industry, I have met so many CEOs of major hotel brands who started off in entry level roles, whether dishwasher or front desk agent. People want jobs where they can grow and succeed instead of staying stagnant.

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 Rosanna Maietta.

Rosanna Maietta serves as the president and CEO of the AHLA Foundation and oversees the foundation’s philanthropic mission to help people build careers, improve their lives, and strengthen the lodging industry through scholarships, workforce development programs, and partnerships with community-based organizations.

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?

From being raised in Canada by a family of Italian immigrants to reporting around the world to working in the communications field, I have enjoyed a life where I get to meet people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. That is one of the main reasons I jumped at the opportunity to lead the AHLA Foundation. Our mission is to improve the lives of people through programs that support their inherent potential. And everyone has a story. Last month, I had the privilege of meeting Maria Anzola — a single mom from Venezuela who is building a future for her daughter. As a working mother myself, I could not help but feel connected to her. She talked so passionately about how our Lodging Manager apprenticeship program helped grow her skills, and a few weeks ago, I learned that she was promoted to general manager. These life-changing moments exemplify why I chose this career path.

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?

Moving forward, we are going to see more meaningful conversations between managers and employees. We are really entering into a period where the employee is boss — setting the agenda and the schedule. In another trend, hiring managers are looking for more diverse talent at all levels. Through inclusive hiring practices, I hope to see more women and minority leaders rise to the top in the next 10–15 years, but hopefully sooner than that. In terms of continuity, the need for good, skilled workers in the hospitality industry will always be in demand. Whether it is today, tomorrow or 100 years from now, a resilient workforce never goes out of style.

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

Talented, dedicated employees are worth their weight in gold. Job seekers are searching for comprehensive benefits, flexible hours, bonuses, upward mobility, and an inviting work environment. Make sure you are meeting employees’ life expectations and communicating well and often about why you are a great place to work. At the AHLA Foundation, we have launched the ‘A Place To Stay’ campaign — a multi-year initiative that helps job seekers discover the 200+ career pathways and many perks that the hospitality industry offers, including competitive wages, benefits, flexible schedules, and travel opportunities. The best advice is to do what you can to keep the employees you have and then others will be more inclined to join your organization.

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?

Employers have definitely moved to adopt to the current pandemic environment we are still in. Whether they are happy with it or not, they’ve embraced flexibility, remote work is happening in practically every industry and you’re seeing a greater emphasis on employee wellbeing and office culture. Obviously, there is a limit to what potential employers are willing to negotiate now, so pushing the envelope too far now, may result in negative effects in the long run. Job seekers want to feel valued — which is why we are showcasing how the hotel industry provides pathway for upward mobility within its workforce. For example, approximately 50% of hotel general managers started in an entry level position, and the likelihood of getting a raise and/or promotion in the first year of employment is high. That is what job hunters are looking for right now — the chance to grow and succeed. If they see a pathway toward the future, they may be enticed to stay in place rather than search for external career placements.

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

The American workforce has changed forever as more individuals opt to work from home. While the hospitality industry does require in-person attendance for many positions, the work-from-home culture also inspired another mantra — flexible schedules. By allowing individuals flexibility, our industry can attract new employees looking to create their own agenda and instill a work/life balance. Influencing the future of employment opportunities, more employers are enforcing hybrid models in addition to fully remote positions to attract new talent into their industries.

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 terms of hospitality, we have learned the importance of creating a safe and clean work environment for all. During the pandemic, many hotels have focused on enhanced cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19. Additionally, while business travel is down significantly since 2019, the growth of leisure and “bleisure” travel represent a shift for our industry, and we will continue evolving to meet the needs of these “new” travelers. With hybrid meetings gaining traction, technology will be even more critical to a property’s success to meet the needs of guests and employees, both today and in the future. Lastly, in the wake of the pandemic, there is a robust appreciation for our service industry — from housekeepers to food and beverage managers. Without these vital workers, we could not have a hospitality industry, and I am grateful to every one of them.

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

The pandemic proved that human beings — through personal and professional endeavors — are adaptable and resilient. We have shifted and adjusted in a matter of months when the pandemic hit, so I’m sure that both employers and employees are now much more willing to find creative solutions to potential work or staffing problems.

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 gotten creative around ensuring their employees take the time they need for themselves, whether it’s mandating vacation time to implementing or enhancing existing wellness programs, to no meetings on Fridays. By helping individuals grow in their job and providing them with opportunities to take breaks, employers show that they value their employees and will retain top talent in the long run.

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?

Instead of simply working to earn a salary, job seekers are looking for meaningful work to benefit their career paths. Leaders need to highlight how their employees can reach fulfillment in their professional journeys. From goal setting to project ownership, employers need to show job seekers how their work is meaningful and makes an impact.

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

Career Development — In this industry, I have met so many CEOs of major hotel brands who started off in entry level roles, whether dishwasher or front desk agent. People want jobs where they can grow and succeed instead of staying stagnant.

Flexibility- The Millennial and Gen-Z generations are not looking for the typical 9–5 job. They want a job with flexible schedules that will lead to an adventurous career path. With technology at their fingertips, the younger generations are looking for positions that allow them to carve their own schedules.

Job Fulfillment- Job seekers want to feel like their job makes a difference. Recently, I met an oyster shucker from New Orleans who has been working in the food and beverage industry for more than 40 years. He felt that he made his mark on the world by bringing joy to his guests and providing them with one-in-a-lifetime experiences. Job seekers do not just want a paycheck, they want to feel passionate about their work and make their impact.

Benefits- Job seekers are looking for robust benefits such as 401K matching, health insurance, tuition reimbursement, professional development opportunities and flexible work hours. ​I recently learned the story of Sarah Dennis — an accounting manager at the Royal Sonesta. As a working mom, she used the continuing education benefit to complete her bachelors’ degree and open new doors for her family.

Industry Perks — In the hospitality industry, our employees love the travel discounts and can stay in hotels worldwide. The allure of new and exciting destinations, learning about new cultures, meeting new people and cool hotels is why we all love this industry so much.

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?

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s important as a leader to continuously drive your team forward, advance your priorities and objectives. As you do that, sometimes the weeds can get in the way Remember, sometimes it’s better to keep moving than worrying or waiting for it to be perfect.

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.

Melinda Gates to hear about the challenges she faced and may still face running a global non-profit, constantly thinking about making an impact and any advice she would have for an organization such as ours, trying to do the same.

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?

As we continue to work together to build the future of hospitality, visit to learn more about our robust industry. If you want to contact us directly, share your stories with us at [email protected].

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