RISE OF SMALLER COMPANIES. For the next few years, I think we will continue to see smaller companies grow while larger ones struggle. This is because these companies can offer a more personalized, cohesive environment.

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 Temy Mancusi-Ungaro.

Temy Mancusi-Ungaro is the Chief Executive Officer of Reachdesk, the leading global data-driven gifting platform. As a seasoned C-suite executive with decades of experience scaling SaaS companies, Temy oversees the company’s overall operations, including driving profitability, managing the company’s organizational structure and strategy, and communicating with the board. As Reachdesk CEO, he is committed to hiring the best people and taking the company to the next level of growth.

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.

Starting from the beginning, I was raised by a single mother, who was never expected to become the breadwinner of the family. As such, she chose a career based on her passion rather than how much money it would make. However, in the end, she was able to build a very successful career–enough to support the family. The lesson I learned is that you may have no clue how it will work out, but if you follow your passions, you’re going to inevitably find success.

When I entered the workforce, I started my career at a very large bank. As it is typical at large companies, the bank had a ton of rules and processes. Any time I needed something I had to go through multiple steps to reach approval, sometimes being rejected and needing to be resubmitted until finally, I got what I needed to do my job better. In the end, I was advocating for something to make me a better worker, but the decision was determined by someone not close enough to the problem. As a result, I’ve committed myself to empower the people closest to the problem to make the decision. I learned the importance of always investing in your employees and giving them things that make their jobs easier. Employees are everything — give them a voice and the resources they need and watch the results flourish.

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?

First of all, no matter how much the world of work changes, building genuine connections and treating people kindly will always be the right way to do business. 15 years from now, technology might take us to new heights by opening up exciting opportunities and enabling us to be more efficient and flexible in how we work. However, it will still be the people behind the technology that will make the difference, and human emotion and connection will always drive people forward. In fact, I believe that genuine, authentic human connections will be even more important.

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

My biggest piece of advice for employers who want to future-proof their organizations is to focus on retaining top talent. It is the hardworking employees who build a company and they will be the ones to drive you into the future. To do this, employees need to feel recognized and appreciated for all of the work they do. Many business leaders tend to focus on creating a great experience externally for customers to help grow the business. While this is important, it’s also crucial to recognize that the same experience must happen internally for employees.

And it’s not always more money! In a recent McKinsey study, researchers found that employees value a sense of belonging and recognition from employers. As companies across the globe have shifted to a more hybrid workplace situation, creating personal moments can be challenging. At Reachdesk, we are setting ourselves up for long-term success by fostering a culture of appreciation internally and investing in employee experiences to create a greater sense of belonging and utmost transparency. Employers need to make it clear that we’re all on this journey 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?

In the world of hyperinflation, hypergrowth, and remote work, we have seen a significant increase in salaries across the board. Many employees have come to expect these increases, and if they don’t get them, they look to transition to a job where they can. While there will always be companies hiring aggressively, I predict this will slow down, and employers will be increasingly unwilling to match the salary expectations of some of their employees, thus creating a wage gap.

However, what employees are really chasing is happiness. What we’ve lost over the past couple of years is the human connection. What always inspired us to come to work was the team and the camaraderie of everyone working together towards a common goal. I believe employers will be open to investing more into employees, and in turn, employees will increasingly appreciate investments that make them more productive at work, more aligned with their teams, and more excited and connected with the overall mission of the company. This is how companies will bridge the gap.

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

The culture of work has undoubtedly changed since the start of the pandemic. While I believe remote/hybrid work is here to stay, it negates many of the benefits of working side-by-side with your peers. It may be more efficient, but I question if people are having as much fun.

Now more than ever, it’s important to focus on building connections and camaraderie amongst colleagues, whether it is in-person or remote. As working from home has become increasingly popular, companies need to invest time and resources into finding the right way to effectively engage with employees. Happy employees lead to happy customers, leading to more successful businesses.

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 first step to creating a work environment that is best for everyone is investing in the resources necessary to help businesses to meet the demands of a new way of working. I’ve seen more and more organizations begin to do this. The future of work will be different for each organization, but some of the ways I believe companies can offer a future of work that is best for everyone are:

  • Offering flexible working hours.
  • Offering flexible working locations.
  • Creating benefits for employees that reflect the challenges of juggling the new reality of work-life balance.

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

My greatest source of optimism about the future of work is the increased flexibility for employees. There is a much greater emphasis on encouraging employees to take time for themselves than there has been in recent years. The shift to remote work allows for the opportunity to spend more quality time with those who matter most in our lives.

This shift also benefits companies, as they can tap into talent from anywhere in the world. I hope that with all this additional flexibility and open communication, we can all be more productive as we are creating a work environment that is optimal for all.

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?

I believe that the period we just went through has created many issues around mental health and well-being. The key to optimizing employees’ mental health and wellbeing is to provide a space to express thoughts and concerns openly, connect with peers, receive recognition, and ask for help. At Reachdesk, we offer our employees the utmost transparency and continual feedback. This allows us to raise issues and address them promptly.

For example, when our employees expressed a lack of connectivity, we launched a variety of initiatives to combat this feeling. We’ve responded to poor mental health by adding flexible health benefits that can be applied how the employee wants toward their well-being. We’ve kept our manager ratios low so that our employees always have someone they can go to. We’ve also added more regular team and company syncs to remind our employees that they have one another to rely on. The answer will be different for each company, which is why fostering an environment of open communication will be increasingly important for every company.

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?

The takeaway for leaders is that your great people can no longer be taken for granted and you are going to have to act if you want to keep them. At Reachdesk we talk about the “Great Recognition,” an internal movement of recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions to the company’s success. People work best when they feel seen and appreciated for their efforts. Employers can offer a variety of experiences and events that make employers feel seen and valued. At Reachdesk, we utilize our platform to send personalized gifts to employees for special moments in their personal and professional lives. We also create various experiences throughout the year to help build meaningful connections through virtual events and sessions.

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

  1. MORE FOCUS ON CULTURE VS COMPENSATION. Money is important, but employees realize that there is much more that goes into being happy at work. People are looking for organizations that offer a positive work culture that allows for personal growth.
  2. REMOTE WORK WITH PROXIMITY. There will always be a mix of people who prefer to work in an office vs. remote. However, as we move away from the pandemic and people begin to return to work, I expect that many people who have moved away from their work will eventually seek employment closer to home where they can interact with their co-workers
  3. BUSINESSES WITH A HIGHER PURPOSE. Employees today are no longer solely interested in jobs with financial perks. Today there is a growing emphasis on the company’s mission and purpose rather than the compensation and title.
  4. RISE OF SMALLER COMPANIES. For the next few years, I think we will continue to see smaller companies grow while larger ones struggle. This is because these companies can offer a more personalized, cohesive environment.
  5. MORE EMPHASIS ON THE ENVIRONMENT. We will see more businesses cater to helping (or at least not hurting) the environment and global impact will increasingly be a question by employees. Those companies that harm the planet will find it harder and harder to find good talent. Helping the planet will make good business sense.

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?

I have several, but the one that seems the most timely for me at the moment is Mike Tyson’s “Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth.” We cannot deny that the last couple of years felt like a punch in the mouth in many ways. Everything that happened was unexpected and sudden. What we thought we were going to do got completely upended. That said, it’s a new reality and so what we must do now is recognize that and respond. It’s the changes we put into place now that will lead to greatness.

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.

Two people I’ve really come to admire are Jocko Willink and Leif Babin after reading “Extreme Ownership.” I remember a couple of months after we all were sent home and the newness had washed off, I wondered how we were going to accomplish everything we wanted with such distance between us and so much other stress going on. Reading their book and hearing what they had to endure put this all into perspective. I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices they made for our country and am in awe at what they were able to accomplish under the circumstances. It’s truly inspiring and a reminder that there’s always a solution.

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?

Feel free to follow me or Reachdesk on LinkedIn and check out our blog at https://reachdesk.com/resources

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