People will leave for preventable reasons. People will continue to leave organizations that show limited understanding or appreciation for their people. Each exit is costly, in time and dollars. And many exits are preventable. They represent a failure somewhere in the organization; and businesses that are willing to take hard looks at “why” will reap the rewards of keeping the people they cannot afford to lose. Hint: pay may be a factor, but is usually not the driving factor.
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 Tyler Arvig, PsyD, LP. Dr. Arvig is associate medical director for R3 Continuum, a global leader in protecting and cultivating workplace wellbeing in a complex world. He has extensive experience in behavioral health workplace issues. He’s a sought-after speaker, writer and contributor in the field of workplace behavioral health.
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 was born with cerebral palsy and I’ve dealt with physical challenges my entire life. Despite this, I’ve gone on to do pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted to do. Life is full of challenges, seen and unseen, but they only become barriers if we allow them.
I’m also an avid car fanatic and for nearly 20 years I have been involved in racing, high performance driving, and teaching advanced car control skills to teens and adults. It feeds my passion for driving, but also my passion for life. Driving fast is almost exclusively an exercise in mental focus and situational adaptability. It requires continual drive for improvement, constant forward focus, and perseverance. Conditions are never ideal and always changing, but success is a matter of how you adapt to those conditions and changes. Life, really, is no different.
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?
This is a difficult question to answer, as looking at work 10 to 15 years prior to this time reveals that we could have predicted little about how things are today. And technology is advancing at a much faster rate, meaning that, in theory, there will be things in 10 years we have not even thought of today.
We will also be looking at a different workforce. In 10 to 15 years, workers will have remarkably different life experiences than the average worker of today. Their expectations of what work is, how flexible it is, and what work means will be different. Employers need to be prepared for this and some already are taking steps to do so.
The concept of a nebulous work environment is likely to only gain traction in the coming years. Having a brick-and-mortar office is going to be less important, and fears about remote work being less productive are going to be diminished, as they have been in the past few years. Work will become much more about getting things done in a way that is effective, than it will be about getting things done on a set schedule or in a certain environment.
With that said, humans are still human. Behavioral health needs are still going to exist, people are still going to get married, divorced, and have life changes; and issues with depression, anxiety, addiction and trauma are going to be present. And these issues are going to impact your workforce, no matter what your workplace looks like.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Constantly be evaluating your business model against current realities of the marketplace. Organizations that succeed will be ones that change with the times and consumer needs. From an employee standpoint, the same is true. Having a work environment that emphasizes getting the work done over how the work gets done will be critical. Having an environment that values employee needs along with business needs will help to attract and retain talent.
Retaining talent, in particular, will be critical going forward. This means thinking a bit creatively. Matching business needs with employee needs is not only a way to keep employees happier and more productive, but it also significantly contributes to the bottom line of your organization when you don’t need to spend your time and effort continually replacing your talent.
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?
Pay and benefits may be important for getting people in the door, but they are not as critical when it comes to keeping people in your organization. To keep people, you need to have a supportive work environment, competent and supportive management, and a willingness to show that you value employees’ personal needs. Many organizations have gotten good at things like pay and benefits, but have struggled with these other things which are not traditional “textbook” aspects of running a business. This does not mean that organizations can’t be aggressive, or profitable, or do the things that they have always done. But if you ignore other things, such as employee health, it will eat away at your bottom line.
The first thing here is quite basic. Business leaders need to show employees that they care about them as individuals. This need not be a grand gesture but does need to be there, at some level, daily. The second often overlooked piece is an emphasis on well trained and skilled management. Many managers are promoted based on job skill, not leadership ability. Yet, leadership ability is the most critical element of being a good manager. People don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers. So as an organization, build out your management teams not only with the ability to get work done, but to coach, mentor, and develop good employees.
We have also seen mental health issues skyrocket among employees during the last few years, and this not only has a monumental impact on your people, but on organizational efficacy. R3 Continuum works in this space extensively, as it’s work we love to do. Make sure your employees know what resources are available to them and how to utilize them. For an employee to be productive, they need to be healthy; and as an employer, you have a role in helping someone get/stay healthy.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
I think most people expected the work from home situation to be temporary and to revert back to in-office work as the pandemic waned. As we are now seeing, work from home is likely to become a norm in many organizations. Employment is no longer a localized activity, limited by geography. This flexibility benefits employees and employers, in that they are able to find talent regardless of geographic location.
It’s important to remember, however, that work from home is not an option in many industries and never will be. So while this change in work environment has benefited many, it has not benefited all. This means that people who don’t have this flexibility may need to be offered other types of flexibility.
It is also important to realize that working from home or remotely is not ideal for all people. Remote work is more isolating, less social, and in general last physically active. It may not be preferred by some and may not be effective for others. The lesson here is that there is no “one size fits all” approach and future employment decisions will be a combination of business need and employee preference.
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 primary way the pandemic reshaped the workforce was to force evaluation of the balance between personal life needs, safety, and work. As has been the case throughout the history of the world, people have met the needs of the day, adapted, and moved forward. There are not a lot of societal changes that need to occur. Frankly, societal changes typically occur out of necessity, and we have seen societal changes during this pandemic already. The primary change is going to be balancing out personal needs with business needs in a way that meets both more effectively.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
My greatest source of optimism is looking at how well we’ve done over the past two years. As a culture, a country, and a world, we’ve largely succeeded in the face of disruption. People always find a way, and we did.
Like the Great Depression and World War II, times of great disruption force collective improvements and innovations. And without fail, humanity has always met the need of the day. This gives me great hope that the future of work will be exactly what it needs to be at the time that it needs to be.
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?
The most innovative things we see companies doing are honestly the simplest things. They are taking a proactive approach to supporting the mental health of their employees. Rather than relying simply upon private health insurance or traditional offerings such as employee assistance programs, they are implementing simple yet direct programs to provide direct support to their employees. This could be providing support on site, virtually, or in person. As the realization that health and productivity are inextricably linked has hit home, there has been renewed appreciation for supporting employees. As discussed previously, this is also one critical component to employee retention as companies that show appreciation for employee health are likely to retain more employees by supporting their health.
Some innovative strategies have included: putting your behavioral health clinician on site during the workday; providing on-demand telephonic or virtual clinical support; and proactively reaching out to employees to provide support during times of distress within a company. Some organizations are even employing concierge-level access to treatment, ensuring that employees who need help are getting it immediately, and with the best possible provider.
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 most important message leaders need to hear, with any of these headlines, is there is always something that can be done to attract and retain top employees. People do not leave organizations where they feel valued, fairly compensated, appropriately treated, and able to meet their own life needs. Most resignations at this point are occurring because an individual’s needs are not being met in their current employment situation.
Every employer and leader needs to take a hard look at why people leave their organization. Asking vital questions: Do we have a failure of management? Are we adequately supporting the health of our people? Do we offer flexibility? What could we have done differently to retain every employee that left the organization?
Businesses need to evolve in how they look at some of the basic elements of the workplace. They need to take a hard look in how they are supporting the health, and particularly the behavioral health, of their workforce. Get feedback from every level of your organization on ways to improve how your organization functions and how you support the people in your organization. Then, take that information and do something useful at a leadership level.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Direct access to behavioral health support. Resources for employee health in many organizations have looked the same for years, but everything around your people (and the people themselves) has changed. Take an active role in looking at what is available to your people, and then make changes accordingly. If you partner with an organization, make sure they are the right one for your culture, organization, and needs.
- Increasingly flexible work sites. From home, from the villa in the mountains of Austria, from a temporary office — as technology continues to evolve, so do the possibilities. This will be expected by future candidates, as work needs to better meet personal needs. We’ve seen many large and previously inflexible companies embracing this approach with positive results. And why not? It takes the limits of geography out of the hiring process, keeps employees happier, and in many cases more productive.
- Leaders are going to be professionally stretched. What it means to be a leader in 2021 is qualitatively different than it was in 2010, or what it will be in 2022. Chances are, some of your leaders of today won’t cut it tomorrow. It is critical then that you invest in supporting leadership at every level. We work with one program that provides concierge-level coaching and behavioral health support to management in a highly demanding work culture. These leaders are being stretched constantly, and this support is critical.
- Personal balance as a necessity, not a perk. The pandemic has placed a huge emphasis on personal values. Work is still important, but has been knocked down a peg as personal health, family needs and long-term goals have taken our attention. Along with that has come the existential questions: “What am I doing? Where am I going? What is truly important?” We have not devalued work, but we have revalued other things.
- People will leave for preventable reasons. People will continue to leave organizations that show limited understanding or appreciation for their people. Each exit is costly, in time and dollars. And many exits are preventable. They represent a failure somewhere in the organization; and businesses that are willing to take hard looks at “why” will reap the rewards of keeping the people they cannot afford to lose. Hint: pay may be a factor, but is usually not the driving factor.
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?
“Your hands follow your eyes…look far ahead.” It’s racing 101, it applies equally to life and business. Your brain is wired to take you in the direction of your vision. In any situation, look for your opening, and look as far ahead as you can. At 100 MPH, your car travels nearly 150 feet in one second. What’s right in front of you has already happened. Nothing can be done to change that reality. But if we keep eyes up, looking far ahead, there are no surprises and we can plan our course-driving both faster and safer. Businesses who have vision and are guided by that vision are less reactive, more agile, and able to achieve their greater purpose.
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.
Hmm. So many. But probably George W. Bush. I have much appreciation and respect for him as an effective leader during one of the worst events of my generation, but also admire that he seems to be overall a simply decent and kind person. We need more strong leaders who are also, at their base, principled and good people.
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?
They can reach me directly at [email protected]; find me on LinkedIn; or check out our company’s website for presentations, articles, or how we can help solve some of your workplace behavioral health challenges at: www.r3c.com
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.