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Helen Beedham On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

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… Businesses need to create a different experience of work, which will drive better outcomes for their bottom line and for their employees. They need to look afresh at every aspect of their organisation and aim to ‘fix the system’, instead of trying to fix the individual. This means changing the way they structure their organizations, take decisions, collaborate, manage work, lead teams and attend to interpersonal relationships.


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 Helen Beedham.

Helen Beedham is the author of the Amazon bestseller The Future of Time: how ‘re-working’ time can help you boost productivity, diversity and wellbeing, in which she sets out how organisations urgently need to embrace a new way of managing time at work. A former management consultant then chair of a professional network, Helen holds an MA from Cambridge University and as writer, speaker and adviser, she draws on over 25 years of expertise in shaping organisational cultures and nurturing professionals’ careers. In her podcast ‘The Business of Being Brilliant’ she explores the human side of work, talking with business and HR leaders and academics about what helps us, and the businesses we work in, to flourish.

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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.

Probably the most defining life experience was losing my father very suddenly to heart disease when he was just 59, as I was in my late 20’s. He’d shown no outward signs of illness and we were — and still are — are very close family, so it was a devastating shock to us all. That was 22 years ago now. One of the things that experience taught me was how we often assume we will have all the time in the world to do the things we dream of, but in actuality, we may not. So I’ve learnt to appreciate life’s fragility and to make the most of the here and now.

As an example of that, I ran the London Marathon in 2018 with my younger brother. I’d run 5–10k distances regularly for many years but never saw myself as a marathon runner. But cheering my brother on in the 2017 London Marathon inspired me to get training too — put it down to a healthy dose of sibling rivalry! The 2018 Marathon turned out to be the hottest on record; I ran it without stopping and the experience was incredible: I’ll never forget the roar of 40,000 people cheering us on — or the welcome sight of the finish line. The experience reminded me that I can do ‘big things’ when I put my mind to it and gave me courage to follow other ambitions such as to set up my own business and to write a book. (And no, I have no plans to run another marathon).

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?

What will not change, in my view, is our need for a sense of purpose in our work lives, for personal growth and for meaningful interpersonal relationships. Wherever we work from, and however we do our work, we will still want to feel part of a community that genuinely values what we each bring — our skills, our knowledge, our life experiences and our ways of thinking. Increasingly we will gravitate towards employers and businesses that can offer us this, along with sustainable workloads that allow us to thrive, progress in our careers and enjoy our lives outside of work.

In terms of what will be different, I’d like to say that we will have abandoned the cult of busyness that characterises our world of work — the frenzied urgency, short-term deadlines and horizons and the greater value that is placed on our being present, visible and available rather than on what we actually achieve. I predict that businesses will be judged much more sharply on the kind of work culture they promote and on whether they nurture healthy, inclusive workplace behaviours and working patterns. Today 20–30% of a business’ market capitalisation (if they are a publicly listed company) is determined by their reputation; in the future, I believe that a corporate reputation will be made or broken by the way the business treats its employees and shapes its workplace culture.

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

One of the biggest challenges facing employers today is how they attract, develop and retain the people and skills they need for their business to succeed in the future. This is at a time when we are adopting and integrating new technology into our workplace at an astonishing pace with automation, cloud computing, digital platforms, data analytics and of course virtual and hybrid working.

The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, time spent on existing work activities globally by humans and machines will be equal; 85 million jobs will be ‘displaced’ and 97 million new roles will emerge. Some of the more worrying consequences of this digitization of work include the fragmentation of our working time, unproductive multi-tasking, long working hours on screens without sufficient breaks and a reported rise in loneliness and joylessness in our daily work lives.

It’s well recognised that employers who want to future-proof their organizations will need to devote more time to training, developing and reskilling employees to help displaced workers find new roles and succeed in these. Those that do this successfully will not just solve their talent sourcing conundrums but also reap financial rewards — this study by the consulting firm BCG in March 2020 found that the top 5% of companies investing in people development increase their revenue twice as fast as the bottom 5%, and their profits 1.4 times as fast. But alongside learning and development programmes, employers need to focus on fostering humanity at work and enabling longer-term careers in this era of automation, big data and algorithms. If they really want to future-proof their organizations, employers need to invest in ‘humanizing’ their workplaces as much as they invest in digitizing them. They can do this by offering flexibility over the short and long term and prioritizing time during the working week for people to think, create, connect and socialise with colleagues in a more rewarding way.

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?

Most knowledge-based businesses have impressive statements and policies around welcoming diversity but the majority are still clinging onto a ‘one size fits all’ way of working that simply doesn’t work for everyone and I see scant signs of change. For proof, just look at our homogenous leadership teams, our UK national gender pay gap that is stuck at around 14% and the continued under-representation and slower career progression of people of colour in the workforce. Increasingly, employees are expecting action and evidence from employers about how they are tackling this, rather than polished words. People want to feel genuinely welcomed, valued and included; if this doesn’t happen, they end up marginalized and over time they disengage, fail to reach their full potential and/or move on to a more enlightened employer.

Businesses which are serious about offering rewarding careers need to realize that until they re-evaluate the way they value and invest time at work, broad swathes of their workforces will continue to feel disadvantaged and demotivated. Instead of favouring presenteeism, speed and task accomplishment, businesses need to:

  1. Define in straightforward terms what ‘productive’ looks like
  2. Manage performance more transparently, addressing how work is delivered as well as what is delivered.
  3. Take time to invite contributions from different perspectives to help avoid group think and organizational blindspots.
  4. Dig into their organizational data for evidence of ‘time bias’ — how different groups of people are advantaged or disadvantaged by the way time spent at work is valued and rewarded.

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

Mass enforced remote-working proved to business leaders everywhere that their employees could be trusted to work from home, as employee productivity remained at least as high as, and often higher than, when people worked from offices. However, we already had a long hours culture and during the pandemic, working hours extended and blurred still further into non-working time. In future, working hours and practices will increasingly come under greater scrutiny in the media and in the law courts, as employers like Uber and Goldman Sachs have already experienced. The mountains of unpaid time that we effectively spend at our employer’s disposal will be questioned and leaders will be forced to address the damaging workloads and time pressure that many employees struggle with.

In future, we will need to become more ‘time-aware’ as individuals, managers, teams and organizations: we will have to learn how to collectively focus on the priorities, minimize distractions, manage boundaries and adopt healthier, more productive working habits day-to-day and over the longer term. We need to get better at collective time management. One way to do this is to foster ‘time-savvy teams’ through facilited team discussions and negotiations; another way is to role model ‘time-intelligent’ leadership whereby leaders visibly set positive examples around switching off, avoiding false urgency, valuing downtime and social time and coaching others in doing the same.

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?

Two of the biggest changes that we need to see in societal terms are 1) accepting that men can be equal partners with women in terms of care giving and domestic responsibilities and 2) offering more affordable child care. Only once these are addressed will we begin to see better progress towards real gender equality and balance in the workplace. A third change is already gathering pace: greater calls and campaigns to address social injustices, which is being mirrored in our workplaces. Employees, investors and customers are increasingly calling businesses out on unacceptable practices and exclusive attitudes and behaviours.

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

Our potential to think creatively and collaboratively. We will always be confronted by issues and challenges to resolve in our world of work, but we have also demonstrated in the past couple of years just how adaptable and innovative we can be, in the face of daunting circumstances. I feel confident that with the right tools, healthy workplaces and foresighted leadership we can harness the abilities of employees to experiment and come up with solutions that will enrich our working lives. I also believe that the best ideas come from all sorts of different people — older workers nearing the end of their careers, younger employees starting out, and people from different backgrounds and cultures. So the more we welcome diversity of thought into our organizations, the more likely it is we’ll design a future of work that will work better for everyone.

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?

Many employers have been investing in wellbeing strategies and targeted solutions such as mindfulness sessions, social activities and talks by wellbeing experts. The more innovative employers are steering clear of piecemeal offerings and adopting a more strategic approach to wellbeing; in particular, they are looking at ‘flex wellbeing’ where employees can adapt their working arrangements and personalise their employee benefits to best suit their own wellbeing needs.

Employees are increasingly valuing time-centric benefits, such as meeting-free days and weeks, an annual corporate day off for wellbeing purposes (often billed as a thank you to employees for their hard work and an encouragement to rest), and additional wellbeing days off added to existing annual leave entitlements. Some employers are introducing a minimum number of days’ leave that employees are required to take and then offering unlimited paid leave once this threshold is met, as this People Management article describes. Working parent and carer employees at family-friendly employers have gained additional paid leave entitlements too, a practice introduced during the pandemic that looks set to stay. And longer stretches of paid and unpaid leave are being offered to employees for a far wider range of reasons than before.

The most innovative employers are not shying away from the underlying question of job design, an issue which is often disregarded or overlooked, yet unsustainable workloads tend to lie at the heart of work-related stress and overwork. These employers are considering the full range of time-flexibility options including part-time, job-sharing, hybrid or term-time roles, annualized or compressed hours and importantly, they are reviewing and updating job responsibilities to make sure the workload is ‘human-sized’ and regularly pruned to address scope creep.

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 loudest message for leaders from these headlines is that the balance of power is shifting between employer and employee. So many employees are feeling burnt out, disengaged and unwilling to continue making such significant sacrifices in terms of their wellbeing and home lives. They are also judging their employer’s actions and practices more carefully and asking themselves: do I agree with the way business is conducted here? They are speaking up more, negotiating harder for an employment deal that works better for them, and voting with their feet. Leaders who insist on reverting to pre-pandemic work policies and practices will see their talented people ebb away to more enlightened competitors who are offering greater autonomy, flexibility and choice in terms of working arrangements, development and career paths.

Businesses need to create a different experience of work, which will drive better outcomes for their bottom line and for their employees. They need to look afresh at every aspect of their organisation and aim to ‘fix the system’, instead of trying to fix the individual. This means changing the way they structure their organizations, take decisions, collaborate, manage work, lead teams and attend to interpersonal relationships. By adopting the following 6 organisational traits, leaders can foster a healthier, more productive and inclusive work cultures:

The six traits are:

  1. Outcome obsessed: they have a laser-sharp focus on outcomes and leaders role model ‘time intelligence’
  2. Deliberately designed: is on a permanent quest to minimize distractions and help people focus on the important work
  3. Actively aware: they foster healthy habits and environments that enable people to do their best work
  4. Career committed: they invest in long-term careers with tailored ‘time deals’
  5. Community cultivators: they value humanity, social cohesion and wellbeing
  6. Expertly evolving: they prize experimentation, learning and open-mindedness.

To bring these traits to life, there are a whole raft of practical solutions that organisations can implement, from establishing principles for working patters, harnessing technology thoughtfully to free up time and boost performance and rewarding contributions in a timely, fair and personalized way.

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

You can watch my ‘Top 5 Trends’ video on YouTube here:.

Trend #1. Creating distraction-free environments, by:

  • Setting up quiet spaces online and in offices to allow people to concentrate or to switch off;
  • Focusing on a few clear priorities, keep asking ‘why are we doing this?’
  • Checking assumptions when work is commissioned, and explicitly confirming the deadlines and the required output.

Trend #2. Offering longer term careers, by:

  • Providing greater job security by minimizing redundancies, reskilling and redeploying people wherever possible.
  • Acknowledging that people’s ambitions vary by life stage, background and personal circumstances
  • Helping employees to be ‘the CEO of their career’, with the manager acting as coach and HR providing the tools, data and technology platform.

Trend #3. Rethinking business working hours, by:

  • Moving away from specifying formal business hours or fixed office hours
  • Introducing principles guiding working time, giving teams the freedom to decide when and how they work.
  • Different solutions include offering core working hours with flexibility either side of these; recognising time worked at weekends as at Arup; and experimenting with a four-day working week like Atom Bank and 30 other UK organisations.

Trend #4. Abandoning time as a measure of performance, by:

  • Shifting away from using billable hours/time as your primary performance metric, as some innovative law firms are looking to do.
  • Focus instead on outcomes and what has been delivered
  • Rewarding non-financial contributions as well — ‘how’ people have delivered as well as ‘what’ they have delivered.

Trend #5. Nudging users into better digital choices, by:

  • Adding pre-designed meeting options to reduce time spent online on video calls
  • Giving people 10–15 minutes ‘switching’ time between calls and meetings to aid better cognitive functioning and physical and mental health
  • Analysing your employees’ online habits to spot early signs of overwork, excessive presenteeism and insufficient breaks.

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?

A favourite quote is: ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined’ by Henry David Thoreau the American poet and philosopher. My colleague, mentor and friend Margaret gave me a card with this quote on when she left our consulting firm and it has often reminded me to believe in my goals and and my ability to achieve them.

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 the opportunity to meet and talk with the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman, whose book Thinking Fast and Slow has transformed our understanding of how our brains work. I drew on some of his ground-breaking research in my own business book.

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?

Please do get in touch with me via my website, on Linked In and on Twitter. I also share my latest thinking and work on my YouTube channel and Instagram account.

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

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The Benefits Of Coaching In The Workplace

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The world of coaching is a flourishing industry, and many innovative leaders are finding that they need to become coaches. This can be a positive thing because coaching and leading work hand-in-hand. Not only does this develop your skills as a leader, but it also pushes your staff to embrace and take ownership of their development.

The Benefits of Coaching

Coaching has numerous benefits for the individual being coached and the organization as a whole. For an individual, the benefits include:

Take greater responsibility for their results and the results of the people they work with;
Be more accountable for actions and commitments;
Plan and take action towards achieving goals and objectives;
Communicate more effectively with others;
Become more self-reliant and confident:
Increased creativity, productivity, and self-esteem;
Make more significant contributions to their team and organization;
Have greater satisfaction in life and career.
Other benefits include:
Strengthen individual’s skills so they can delegate more tasks and focus on their core strengths:
Improve employee retention since managers are taking the time to help employees enhance their skills;
Uncover hidden talent in people that can be utilized more effectively;
Overcome time-consuming and non-value-adding performance issues;
Use company resources more effectively as coaching costs less than formal training.

The main thing to recognize is that coaching brings the best out of individuals and teams, which results in improved productivity, increased employee engagement, and better performance. In most cases, people’s performance improves because they want to improve, not because they are instructed they have to. Coaching is a powerful technique to discover what people’s self-motivation is.

How Coaching can be Used in an Organization

Coaching is a technique that can be used in a 360-degree fashion. Much like 360-degree feedback, coaching can be executed the same way: uphill, downhill, laterally, and coaching of teams. An authentic coaching culture allows coaching to be used in all directions equally. 

Organizations can approach coaching in a way that aligns with their objectives. Before employing a coaching strategy, the company must identify key points on how managers will become coaches and how those managers should coach others. Typically, this is a Human Resource effort with Executive Management supporting the initiative. This ensures a company-wide initiative.

Coaching downhill is the most straightforward and most utilized technique. Downward coaching involves a higher-level employee, arching subordinate employees. Since direct reports are the easiest to influence and have the greatest level of contact with the manager, these are easy candidates for coaching.

Coaching uphill is more complicated. Coaching upwards involves a manager coaching his superior. This technique is unique and hard to implement. For this to be effective, the entire organization must be open and encourage upward coaching. This can be seen as a manager guiding a superior manager. This can be as simple as the manager being a third party to help work through problems with a superior manager. 

Coaching laterally involves coaching peers of the same level in the hierarchy. This can happen at the manager or even at the lowest level of employee. This involves guiding co-workers with the same position level as the person doing the coaching. This can often be mistaken as cross-training, but it is not skill-based. It is development-based.

Coaching teams usually comes last concerning implementation. Team coaching is about guiding already-empowered individuals to work as a high-performing team. A coach in this respect would help the team clarify its objectives in the beginning and check in throughout the process to help and aid in defining future learning points for the team at the end. The team members should be independent, self-directed, and operating effectively.

Coaching can also provide many benefits in all directions. When coaching downhill, it provides confidence and growth for the employee. It allows the employee to freely talk about what is happening in the organization in a safe space. This also provides a channel for feedback from unbiased sources in confidence. 

Whether it is coaching uphill, downhill, or laterally, coaching is beneficial because it allows the people being coached to gain skills they did not have. It allows for growth and development at all levels to become better employees no matter what level they currently work at. 

The coaching process provides insight and an opportunity to reflect on one’s performance. The coach and the person being coached are on a path of self-discovery that brings to light many new elements of their personality. This allows both parties to become more in touch with themselves and gain more knowledge about who they are as people. By working in a coaching environment, new ideas are presented regularly because more people are discussing situations and solutions that may have been undiscussed in other environments.

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Jess Legge On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

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The Benefits of Flexibility. One thing the pandemic taught us is that many types of work can be done anywhere and at any time. We see so many companies choosing not to reopen their offices, as being remote hasn’t affected the success and productivity of their teams. The savings on facilities is great for companies, but it’s unwise for them to count it all as such. Businesses must continue to invest in the employee work environment — making it motivating, engaging, and productive — wherever it is.


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 Jess Legge.

Jess Legge is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sifted, a woman and LGBTQ+ owned company that offers resources for organizations looking to engage their employees in the new era of the workplace. Founded in 2015, Sifted is the employee engagement partner to Fortune 500s and the nation’s fastest-growing companies. Jess is also an advisor and co-founder of Street Sense, the only fully integrated curb management technology that utilizes citywide camera networks to gather curb utilization data for both drivers and municipalities.


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 took a charcoal drawing intensive in college that started at 7:30 am and was a 3 hour long lab each week. Going into the course I was nervous — I have always liked art and enjoyed painting and drawing in my free time but I’d never done it for a grade. I walked into the first day of class and they handed me a pinecone and told me to start drawing. This was our first project. I meticulously worked on the sketch for the week, hell bent on getting an A. I turned in the sketch that Friday and when I got my grade back, I had flunked it. I went into the professor’s office dumbfounded and asked for feedback. He looked at me and said he failed me because he could see in my strokes that I was trying too hard to do what I thought he wanted to see versus what was natural. I asked for a redo and submitted a new drawing (that I did in half the time with my intuition guiding me) and got an A. That lesson always stuck with me — if I try to mold myself into what I think someone’s expecting, I can hamper my abilities and the inauthenticity will be obvious. It’s been a valuable lesson in all aspects of life — including entrepreneurship.

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?

Collaboration will always be a part of work. Ways to engage, communicate with one another, building trust. Sifted is all about team engagement, no matter where we’re working from, our teams will always rely on communication. It can be difficult to predict what can happen 10–15 years from now, given what has happened in the last 2 years. If anything will be different, the idea of human connection is going to be important to foster work relationships and creativity.

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

Be open to new technology and ways of doing business, try new things, and be decisive about what to keep and what isn’t for your organization. Also, take care of employees. Pay them more than the competition, provide flexible work environments, create opportunities for meaningful engagements and relationship building during the workday, provide opportunities for advancement beyond the stereotypical management path.

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?

Employees post-pandemic want meaningful perks, more than just donuts and beer carts. I think that will continue to be an expectation for employees, and something that employers will need to think ahead on. What actually makes them happier, better nourished, feel more like a team with their coworkers? That’s where Sifted provides such value. We allow companies to perk employees in a way that is truly meaningful. Not only are there the real benefits of having a free, healthful lunch, but the secondary benefits of nourishment, team building, and breaking from the day to experience something new and different have long term value for the employer and the employee.

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

There’s no doubt about it. Employees now demand the ability to work remotely. However, having done so for so long, employees will also demand workplaces that give them a quiet, focused, inspiring place to work away from the distractions of home. Companies will be forced to offer models that accommodate those who love work from home as well as those who don’t. It’s going to be vital for them to be flexible in providing the perks and benefits for both in-office and remote employees.

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 and most importantly, organizations have to get better at listening to their employees’ needs and work to anticipate ways in which their environments might be exacerbating existing disparities within the workplace. Create a culture that supports and rewards honest conversation around the changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. For some employees, work from home might be a welcome relief while other employees fear getting left behind if their contributions are not seen within the traditional office setting. Employers must be aware of disproportionate child-care burdens that some of their team face, concerns around opening up their private lives via Zoom to their teams, and so on while working from home — all while acknowledging that WFH and hybrid models have been a welcome reprieve for some historically marginalized staff, offering more freedom to show up as their authentic selves. Each and every individual on your team is unique and deserves the space to ask for an environment that supports their needs and we as a society and as business leaders have to give them the opportunity to do so. We must challenge our implicit biases and examine the systems we have in place to ensure they are supporting an inclusive future of work.

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

Working isn’t a bad thing. In fact, work gives us purpose, a chance to create, a place (among others) to make an impact. The way the outlook on career and the workplace has changed in the last several years is going to change what people will expect out of their careers and from their future jobs. I believe we’ll continue to grow and evolve and that we can find positive ways to bring the joy back to work.

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?

We’re already seeing many companies provide coverage for mental health under their insurance plans, which is an important first step. But we know that’s just one way to address mental health and that a healthy mental state comes from being nourished in many ways. Food is one literal form of nourishment — our clients are supporting employee wellness and combining it with their own collaboration. Another piece of that is full office closures. Coinbase just announced shutting the office down for four weeks spread throughout the year. Sifted shuts the whole office down from 24th of December to January 2nd to provide more intentional opportunities to recharge. I would also consider child care stipends to be a way for employers to optimize their employees’ mental health and wellbeing. It takes the mental load off of working parents to know they can work and provide for their families while knowing their children are being taken care of.

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 names are new, but the concept isn’t. We need to listen to our employees as we always have. We need to listen, enact changes, get feedback, and keep tweaking and improving. We also need to understand that work is a two-way street. Employers can no longer get away with assuming an imbalanced power dynamic; workers are reclaiming their power, as they should.

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

  1. Empathy is Key
    Empathy is key in retaining employees. Companies must listen to their employees and put themselves in their shoes to fully understand and connect with them. Moreover, if we say we believe this but don’t build that belief into our plans, we can’t deliver. Our business plans need to be designed with empathy in mind. We must leave room — time, resources, space — for the business to accommodate employee needs for time away for illnesses, family priorities, and time off.
  2. Connection in the Workplace
    Connecting with employees on a level beyond work creates a more collaborative environment and shows that the employer values them. Showing your employees you care about them as people and providing them with an inclusive space can directly impact the growth of your company. It’s hard not to like people when you know them on a personal level, so helping your teams know one another makes room for them to like, support, and help each other.
  3. Meaningful Perks
    As I’ve said, employees nowadays are looking for meaningful perks above everything else. As the workplace continues to evolve, so will the kinds of perks that employers are offering. Whether it’s catered lunches, or even offering sabbaticals, certain perks are deemed more valuable to employees than a pay raise. These perks will become more creative and elaborate over time, which we’re starting to see with many organizations.
  4. The Benefits of Flexibility
    One thing the pandemic taught us is that many types of work can be done anywhere and at any time. We see so many companies choosing not to reopen their offices, as being remote hasn’t affected the success and productivity of their teams. The savings on facilities is great for companies, but it’s unwise for them to count it all as such. Businesses must continue to invest in the employee work environment — making it motivating, engaging, and productive — wherever it is.
  5. Technology Evolution
    As technology continues to evolve, the more managerial tasks will become automated. This may be viewed as a negative to some, but I see it as a positive because it will allow employers to focus more on the manager-employee relationships and fostering the core components of their organizations. Businesses need to be thoughtful about where they automate and intentional about where they choose not to leverage technology. When it comes to relationships, technology should serve to deepen the personal connection, not to replace it.

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?

Work hard and treat people well. This is how Sifted operates. We’re completely bootstrapped, and at our core we are about treating people — our clients, their employees, and our employees — well. Whether that’s treating them to lunch or treating them with respect, we treat others well. These simple words keep me grounded and focused on what matters. As Brene Brown is known for saying, “what we know matters, but who we are matters more.”

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.

Ava Duvernay. I’m such a big fan of her films; I value the messages they convey and admire the way she conveys them. She’s immensely talented, a pioneer in her field, and a force for inclusion, and I could learn so much from her.

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?

@jlegge on twitter

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

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Heart Tree

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Several months ago I started seeing heart shapes everywhere I looked. I couldn’t seem to get away from them. I’d see hearts in the clouds, grass, flowers…even the pavement. Then on one of my daily walks, I came across a tree that took my breath away.

The tree was beautiful. From its base firmly implanted in the ground, a big, strong, solid trunk reaches to the sky. A few feet up, the trunk divides, creating two massive extensions that separate, allowing branches to extend and grow in all directions. Then smaller branches and leaves converge, leaving a small gap at the top, forming a perfect heart shaped tree.

Over time, I’ve come to see this tree as a metaphor. The trunk represents the way we start, by creating a strong foundation within ourselves as individuals. And then, like the sturdy branches, we reach out in all directions, to experience other people, places and things, building on that foundation. Like the branches and leaves, emotions, thoughts and feelings fill in the space to complete the heart. Even the little empty patch at the top is a reminder that there’s always room for more love and compassion to fill our hearts. It’s a perfect tree.

On a recent walk, I turned the corner in a different part of our neighborhood and was surprised to find a branch from a tree had fallen, taking down a street lamp and crushing a car. Because there’d been no high winds, I wondered what had happened inside the tree that would cause such a large section to seemingly just break off? Now, with that big branch gone, the remaining part of the tree appeared uneven and unbalanced. Inside myself I felt bad for the tree, knowing how hard it must be working to find its new center. Or was that me?

Our younger son begins high school next week. Attending his orientation was very exciting…for me. Finding his locker, getting his class schedule, buying his PE clothes- it was so much fun! But our fully adolescent, show-no-emotion-son was less enthusiastic. My husband gently reminded me how hard it is for him (or anyone) to start somewhere new, how insecure kids are at this age (even when they don’t show it), and how attending orientation with his parents, of all people, isn’t how he’d prefer to spend his time. I found my way to compassion, but it took a beat. I just knew that this was the last time I’d get to share a high school orientation with our boys and it was hitting me hard.

On top of that, our older son is weeks away from leaving for college. He’s filled with anticipation, excitement and nerves as he counts down the days to his departure. I was doing an amazing job distracting myself until I saw that tree- the one with a chunk of it missing. With such a big part of it gone, how was it going to thrive? Could it find it’s balance and adapt to this new version of itself?

Yes, this was definitely about me.

Focusing on the details and logistics of sending our son off to college has been a wonderful distraction. But lately, I haven’t been able to escape the truth: OH MY GOLLY- once we get him moved in, I’m going to leave him there! My baby. I think about the moment when I have to say goodbye and I wonder if I’ll have the strength to remain vertical like the tree did as it lost its branch? I have visions of me lying in a puddle of tears.

Letting go, supporting him, and finding my new center- all of these things have been weighing heavily on me. As that thought crosses my mind, my hand brushes across my stomach and I’m aware that I’m actually, physically carrying additional weight. It seems my body is responding to this transition in its own way.

I’ve always been fascinated with our bodies and the wisdom they offer. I remember the surgery I had a few months after losing our daughter, where a very large cyst was removed. Reflecting back on the event, I found it interesting that the cyst was the size of a small grapefruit (or child) and the surgery occurred around our daughter’s due date. Was this my body’s way of dealing with the trauma of the loss?

Or the time I had my appendix removed after a week-long intensive lab that completed the first year of my studies in Spiritual Psychology. I released so much toxic material in that first year, it didn’t surprise me that my body responded this way.

Or the incredible learning I’ve received through my experience with breast cancer, as I came to understand the symbolism of losing my breasts. My body was sending me such a loud message that it was time to begin separating from our boys.

And now, as I approach the day I have to say goodbye to our older son at college, it seems my body is holding onto weight. I could point to the cancer meds or my overindulgence of ice cream this summer to justify the weight gain. But my training encourages me to explore the opportunities available to me and my sense is that the weight really represents a larger issue. So I turn my focus to considering what the weight may be offering me.

The extra weight is showing up in my stomach and my rear. I think about that tree and consider how a heavier object is more grounded and harder to tip over. And the weight may be an unconscious attempt to ground myself. Or maybe the weight represents the physical manifestation of my current (over)responsibilities. Like so many of us, I have a lot going on these days and find myself overwhelmed with all I’ve taken on. These things certainly resonate as truth, but I sense this is just a tiny part of why the weight is lingering. I understand that the learning surfaces as we’re able to process it and clarity comes with time. So for now, I’m willing to be patient. I hear a whisper encouraging me to slow down and give myself time to feel all the feelings.

When I do, all sorts of emotions surface. Fear takes the lead, showing up (coincidentally?) in my stomach. It feels like someone has scooped out my gut. I give myself some time to identify all the things that are scaring me. Once that’s complete, I picture my stomach surrounded with love. Then I notice that just beyond the fear is sadness, a mourning, as I consider how I will no longer have immediate access to our older son’s growth, like I have through every other stage of his life. I give into those feelings, allowing them full expression and then release them. I think about all the other Moms (and Dads) going through similar experiences as we separate from our children and am immediately overwhelmed with compassion for our shared experience.

In the past, I would’ve beat myself up about the weight gain. But experience has taught me that the pendulum swings to one side and then the other, but always settles in the middle. The learning will come and eventually the weight will be released and I will come back to center. I sense this period of adjustment calls for patience and gentleness.

As the summer days begin to fade and we head into Fall, I imagine a new branch will begin to stem from the trunk of the tree with the fallen branch. And with time, I’ll adjust and adapt, finding new opportunities with this new, vast space that is opening for me.

Until then, I’ll hug our boys extra tight, enjoy the extra jiggle I feel in my tush, and celebrate our beautiful, magnificent family. (Many) Tears will inevitably be shed as we leave our son to set off on his own, but inside myself I know the truth: he is loved, held, and ready for his new adventure. And like the heart tree, I’ll be filling in the patchy part with new, wonderful experiences and emotions. Because all sorts of magic and miracles await me in my continued, amazing journey of being a Mom.

In loving,

Sarah

If you need support through your midlife experience, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

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