TECHNOLOGY HR ENABLEMENT. There are so many pressures on HR teams. Having a tech stack which really enables People Teams to bring their focus back onto their people will be something we see more of in 2022. Everyone will have more touch points with these technologies in the future.

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 Tony Latter.

Tony Latter is a Co-Founder and Chief Platform Officer for The Happiness Index, an award-winning HR Happiness and Engagement measurement platform. Tony combines a deep knowledge of HR practices and technological knowhow to help lead the ongoing development of a world-class HR tool. He’s also a regular contributor to national newspapers, conferences and professional training.

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 wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t met Matt & Chris, my co-founders during my studies. I attended Christchurch University where I studied marketing and business studies. During the course we covered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which forms the basis of where we begin with The Happiness Index. In the last 80 years since Maslow’s time, we’ve moved on a long way from there though — at The Happiness Index we rely heavily on the field of neuroscience.

Before founding The Happiness Index I was working for a FinTech platform, this job really opened up my eyes to the power of technology and the way that it can be used as an enabler. When the team and I started The Happiness Index I realised that technology is problem solving. Products like ours solve real world needs.

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?

I don’t think anything radically groundbreaking will happen in the next 10–15 years, I see the changes that will be coming will be more about organizations’ flexibility, agility and the need to adapt. Employees are looking for more flexibility. Work-Life balance is going to be the key thing that will have changed. Organizations that allow individuals to have that flexibility will be rewarded with loyalty.

Companies will have to improve their emotional intelligence. Leaders are going to need to understand how people think and feel. Not only will there be more analytics, how, where and what data is gathered will also be different.

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

Listen to your people. Give them a voice, and truly listen to what they have to say. Work collaboratively on how you can drive the business forward together. You also will need to consider the diversity of your employees, ensure you’re bringing in different ways of thinking, feeling and doing. Accountability is also going to be key — you won’t be able to do any of these things without taking responsibility for the decisions that you make.

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 past, there’s been a command and control structure. People came to work and were told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. What employees want is more autonomy. Everyone has a job to do, and needs clarity on what they should be doing within that role. People now want creative freedom on how to do it. Leadership now is much more about guiding people and letting them find their own path. The way to bridge these gaps, the secret is really around two way communication — giving your people access to the right tools, equipment, training which puts your people in the best position to succeed.

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

The thing that we’ve learned in the last few years is really balance. In my own life I no longer commute as often, which means I can drop the kids at school and coach their sports teams. This means I’m getting so much more balance — the rewards of both a challenging work-life and a fulfilling home life. This is going to be something that’s hard for anyone to leave behind.

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?

As we move to a more global workforce, the biggest thing we need to work on next is about the environmental angle. It’s still unclear whether working from home, for example, is definitely more green. In any case, the thing that we need to do now is balance people and the planet, and profits.

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

For me, Gen Z joining the workforce is a great source of optimism. We can see that younger people are really passionate about organizations that are doing good in the world. In most organizations people in leadership are in their 40s, 50s or 60s. The older generation is leading the business, but increasingly we see this young generation of purposeful individuals shaping the business world through their desire to work for organizations that match their values.

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?

An important thing to remember is that every single individual is unique. Part of being human is that everyone will have different needs when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing. At The Happiness Index we work with organizations who ask their people what they need. This might be more equipment or time to access the outside world, or it might be giving their people access to co-working spaces so those who do prefer to be in the office can be. The main thing is to check what the particular individuals in your organization want and need.

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 key change is that people are expecting more from their employers. It’s no longer just a case of a steady pay check. Now people have choices and so they’re gaining the confidence to ask for what they want. It’s really important that you listen to what your people need and want, and start a conversation about what you can realistically implement and when actions can be taken by. Flexibility isn’t necessarily about never being in the office or having more vacation time, and applying these benefits without checking in with your people isn’t going to fix your problem if your people want more training or clearer job descriptions.

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

1. TECHNOLOGY HR ENABLEMENT. There are so many pressures on HR teams. Having a tech stack which really enables People Teams to bring their focus back onto their people will be something we see more of in 2022. Everyone will have more touch points with these technologies in the future.

2. PEOPLE AND PLANET OVER PROFITS. The world is getting increasingly aware of our impact on the planet. Plus, there’s more and more research which proves that focusing on societal and environmental impact actually has great benefits on a businesses’ bottom line!

3. PEOPLE POWER. Last year we saw a lot of headlines about employee activism, particularly in larger organizations. With changes in the recruitment market, people are finding their voice and asking for what they want and need. This year we’ll see more and more workers working together to lobby for better working conditions and benefits.

4. INDIVIDUALISED HR APPROACHES. Although people will band together to demand more in larger organizations, in SMEs I believe we’ll see more individualized approaches to HR. This means that everyone will be able to gain more access to the benefits and support they need.

5. EMPATHETIC EMPLOYERS. This one is very self-explanatory. As well as being more aware of their societal and ecological impact, organizations will need to be more aware of how their employees are feeling. This will affect how they communicate with their people and what environment they offer.

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?

My co-founder Chris Hyland shared the following quote with me “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness.” This really hit home for me and forced me to think about my health in a proactive way. As a leader and as a father this has been important so that I can show up for my team and for my family. At the end of the day this comes back to the work-life balance piece. It also helps me to role model healthy behaviours for those around me.

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 have lunch with Robert Iger, who until very recently was Chairperson of the Disney Corporation. I’ve been reading his book, Ride of a Lifetime, and it sounds like we have very similar interests and challenges. In his book he describes the pillars of his tenure at Disney, which includes technology and globalization. I’d love to talk to him about his extraordinary vision when it comes to technology, and also pick his brains about the globalization piece, as this is something that we’re working on now at The Happiness Index.

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?

We have a thriving community of HR professionals and experts called Happiness and Humans. Here, I share all the latest data and findings from our work at THI. I’d love to see some of you there.

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