Steve Cadigan is a highly sought-after talent advisor to executives and organizations globally. His clients include Google, Salesforce, The Royal Bank of Scotland and the BBC. Top Venture Capitalist and Consulting firms, such as Andreesen Horowitz, Sequoia, and McKinsey regularly retain Steve for his insights and advice.
Steve speaks at conferences and major universities around the world including Harvard and Stanford. Throughout his career the teams, cultures, and organizations he has led have been recognized as exceptional, “world-class” performers by the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.
Steve worked as an HR executive for over twenty-five years at a wide range of companies and industries. His HR career was capped by serving as the first CHRO for LinkedIn.
His work in helping shape the culture at LinkedIn is considered the gold-standard for how to create winning cultures today. In 2021 Steve published his first book titled Workquake.
Today Steve lives in California with his family. He holds an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco.
About this episode
Steve Cadigan is a self-confessed “recovering HR executive”. He was LinkedIn’s first Chief HR Officer and has been in the field of talent for over 35 years. He wrote ‘Workquake’ against a backdrop of increasingly dissatisfied and unhappy workers. People were tired of the old model of work and wanted change. Then came the pandemic — and work as we knew it changed forever. In this episode, Steve talks about the ‘workquake’ we’re experiencing, and why now is our opportunity to throw out old norms and build a better future of work.
What you’ll learn
- What are the biggest future of work challenges we are facing?
- How to become “employable”
- The current state of the employee-employer relationship
- How is the future of work affecting the generations differently.
- The important role of technology in the future of work.
Steve Cadigan [00:00:00] Listen. The way we were. It was not a panacea. It wasn’t perfect. There were flaws. And we’ve been given an opportunity to build something better. That’s the whole reason I wrote Work Week. Let’s have that conversation. And it’s going to be uncomfortable. It will be. There are advantages to new technologies. But the real answer, the reason we’re using technology is to create, I believe, a richer human experience. So, I think we’re losing the plot a little bit in those conversations. So, let’s grab control of it here and recognize that what’s going to differentiate you and your career, and your people and their careers is being more human.
Jo Meunier [00:00:53] Hello and welcome to the Future of Work Podcast by Allwork.Space. I’m Joe Meunier and today I’m speaking with Steve Carrigan, a leading talent adviser to executives and organizations globally. Speaker, author, and LinkedIn’s first chief Asia officer. Last year, Steve published his first book titled Work Quake, which we’ll be discussing today, and we’ll be talking all about the future of work and how to do it better. So welcome, Steve, and thank you for joining us today.
Steve Cadigan [00:01:21] Thanks for having me.
Jo Meunier [00:01:22] Okay. So, we’ll start off. Can you tell us a little bit about your career and how you got to where you are now?
Steve Cadigan [00:01:29] Sure, Joe. I am. I jokingly refer to myself as a recovering human resources executive, but I’ve been in the field of talent for over 35 years. I’ve worked in six different industries. Everything from fashion and insurance all the way through multiple fields within high tech had a chance to work, live in Singapore for two years in Canada, Western Canada for four years. But most of my probably well-known work was being the first chief officer at LinkedIn and taking that company from about 400 to 4000 in two countries to 17 countries and two offices to 30 offices. So, it was a big hypergrowth experience. I stopped doing that about ten years ago. In the last ten years, as you mentioned, I’ve been working with leaders and organizations who want to build compelling, better talent strategies. And this COVID experience that we’ve all confronted in the last few years has created an enormous set of new challenges, which has been fascinatingly interesting for me to help organizations around the world try to figure their way through it. But that’s a little bit about my background.
Jo Meunier [00:02:32] That’s a challenge and a half and we’ll get to that in a moment. What’s it like to lead HR at LinkedIn? That must be quite a role.
Steve Cadigan [00:02:41] That for me it was so dramatically different than anything I’d ever done. I joined that firm as a what I call sort of a big company refugee. I’d only worked for very large firms anywhere from 3000 to 40000. And instead of being invited in to read from a script of this is how the, you know, the function runs, I had to build the script from nothing, and I’d never build an H.R. function from nothing. I was the first sort of human resource executive. They had some recruiters there and some, you know, entry level staff helping keep the boat afloat. But I joined the company when I was about five years old. They’re just starting to hit escape velocity. And it was really hard, if I’m honest, I had never faced the struggles of, hey, we need to build the whole talent management philosophy. We need to build a philosophy of org design. We need to build a performance management philosophy, like, how are we going to do this? And it was great because I got to use all the lessons that I learned and benefit from all the mistakes I’d made earlier in my career to try to build something that really fit the future of work. At the time, this was probably 2009 when I joined the firm. So yeah, it was a great ride. I mean, filled with just enormously exciting new challenges for me. And I think that’s a big part of, you know, what the workforce today is looking for. We all want new adventures and new experiences and new challenges, and that was an enormous amount in that that I confronted. And it really filled me with energy. A lot of energy.
Jo Meunier [00:04:10] Yeah. And how did I imagine that must have influenced what you’re doing now and how you’ve written the book Workquake? So, can you tell us what led you to write the book?
Steve Cadigan [00:04:21] Yeah, you’re right, Joe. I mean, one of the joys of being a human resource executive for a company whose primary product is the human resources recruiting platform was great because I could not only practice my craft, I could also look into what was happening in the world of HR What problems were solving, what recruiting challenges, what dynamics and also the data that we had on everyone’s career path that had never been collected at scale before, that you could start dispelling sort of notions that really are myths that, oh, I have to be a business major to become a CEO. And us seeing hundreds of profiles of someone who never graduated from college, who maybe was an art major, was a phenomenally successful CEO, and so we could shine a light in new spaces. And that definitely informed my thinking about the future of talent, seeing a lot of dysfunctions and a lot of misunderstandings around what is possible in building great teams and building successful organizations. But the key for me was in the last probably the first five years after LinkedIn, I just saw increasing dissatisfaction among employees and employers with the model of work. It’s an old model that was built for slower times where the pace of change wasn’t as dramatic as it is today. And what I wanted to try to do was say, no. I’m seeing lots of really compelling stories for employees to build compelling careers and satisfying careers and organizations to build more engaging and more satisfying. Organizations where, for example, people may mean they don’t need to stay so long, and you could still build a great business. So, I wanted to start a conversation and by the way, I finished work quick before the pandemic. And then I was about to turn it into my publisher. And then I was like, I can’t do this. The pandemic is going to change everything. And when I had a few, I had a few sleepless nights where what if my book is irrelevant because the landscape was going to be so different? So, I waited for about six months for the pandemic, kind of see how is this going to play? And the changes immediately were immense.
Steve Cadigan [00:06:24] And so I said, you know, I think what I’m seeing is the pandemic is accelerating all these trends that I was noticing. And so, you know, I had to sort of redo a fair amount of the book with the COVID influence and also had to take some risks with where it might play out. I have to say proudly and luckily, most of those risks I took are proven to be true. And so, but that was a big driver of me, just dissatisfied things like and I say this in my opening chapter for the folks who haven’t read the book, you know, I left before I took the job at LinkedIn. I left the company after only having been there for about a year and a half. And I was given sort of the silent, cold, cold shoulder treatment like, you know, that’s very disloyal of you. And they’d relocated me from Canada back to the U.S. and they were disappointed. Honestly, that was the feeling I got. And I was heading to a career changing first time head of a pre-IPO company. This is going to be great. And my boss was made to feel bad that, you know, she’d hired someone who left. And so, she took a career hit. And I’m like, this is just a dishonest reality that we start many employment situations with, hey, you stay long, you commit to stay long time. We’ll commit to employing you for a long time. We both know we probably won’t follow through on that commitment, but let’s start our relationship on a foundation that we both know is kind of fragile. And I’m saying we need to have more honest conversations, such as the one we had at LinkedIn, where in your first interview with LinkedIn, we would ask you, what do you want to do when you leave the company you want? What are you fire. Haven’t got an offer you’re firing me already with that turns. It takes the pressure, and it takes the illusion of some false foundation away. And let’s have an honest conversation. You’re going to leave. We know it. Maybe in a year or ten, we don’t know. But what would you like to achieve in that time? And how can we help you write on your journey?
Jo Meunier [00:08:22] That makes you think of one of one of the questions I wanted to ask you, and I’ve looked at this straight out of your book where you say the original question was, how do we keep our staff from leaving? That was the old way of thinking. But we know too, we now need to think about how we make our people better for an uncertain future. So straightaway, it’s sort of thinking about that, yes, we are going to move on. People want to change. Can employers have it both ways? Can they work to keep their people while also preparing them for this uncertain future?
Steve Cadigan [00:08:50] I hundred percent believe that, and I’ve seen organizations really benefit from that architecture and that way of thinking. The old way of thinking is Why would I make you better for the future? And you’re going to just run and, you know, go to my competition. And the reason I think this is true is because we are seeing a spike in attrition on a global level that we’ve never seen before. More people are leaving, not just jobs and companies. They’re leaving career paths and starting new ones or pivoting to new places. And nobody that I speak to in any geography Latin America, Central America, Europe, U.S., Canada, Mexico, nobody that I ask, hey, do you think that trend is going to change in the next 5 to 10 years? Nobody that I talk to believes it will. They say at worst it will slow, but it will continue to accelerate. So that means every organization is going to have more alumni than ever, which is one of the points I make in the book, which is and that’s community most people pay no attention to. And if you have all these people that could be goodwill ambassadors, they could be sources of constructive outcomes for you and your kids. Why wouldn’t you nurture that and cultivate it? And so that’s why I’m saying we need to think about more than just caring about our people when they’re here. We need to think about the long game, making them better so that let’s say they go, maybe they’ll come back, maybe they’ll refer people, deals, ideas, opportunities to us. That, I think, is the reason why you need to invest in your people. Because if they go somewhere else and the grass is green, people will try, you know, other experiences and who’s going to blame them if they think they can gain more financial independence or they can have a more interesting they should go try. But if they come back, that’s really a testament to your culture and that’s why you need to keep investing. And by the way, I think we have scared the workforce. I believe that the future of work. I want to go on record here on this podcast and I’ll touch base to say the future work is the worst marketing campaign in history.
Steve Cadigan [00:10:53] We are scaring the heck out of the workforce. Robots are going to take your job. Automation. Good luck figuring out what skills you need for tomorrow. And we’ve got these consultants who are going to digitally transform your job. Hopefully you’re going to learn how to do it. But we’re more interested in technology than you because we talk about tech and digital and not use all these digital terms more than we talk about this human, wonderfully enriching experience for you. We’ve lost the conversation, I believe, and we’ve become so seduced by technology as a solution and not greater human connection. And that I feel like we’re losing people so that when people executives say, my people are leaving, said, well, you’re scaring them. Listen to the rhetoric. You’re using the words digital transformation. Those two words alone connote no soft, cuddly teddy bear. You know, walk on the beach, sunset cruise. No, it’s cold, impersonal, robotic. And that, I think, is contributing to the psyche, the zeitgeist of the workforce, saying, I want to take more control of my future because my company and for good reasons wants to have competitive advantage through technology. Great. But I want to own my career. That means I want to make my choices and choose places that are going to make me better.
Jo Meunier [00:12:06] Mm hmm. Gosh, there’s a lot to unpack in that. I’ve got a few more questions that I’ve just taken out of that, so bear with me. First of all, I love what you said about the future of work being an awesome marketing campaign. Obviously, it went to my boss. I think that’s great. So firstly, how do we create that culture that encourages people to come back to an organization? How do we create the kind of culture that thinks long term rather than just, oh, how do we keep people? I know, let’s get ping pong tables and all that kind of thing.
Steve Cadigan [00:12:36] So I really believe, you know, stepping back, if you’re trying to retain people today longer, I believe you’re playing defense. If you’re trying to care about people for their entire career journey, that’s playing offense, making people better. And the more you do that, I think the more likely they will say, the more likely they will refer people to you, the more. And so, it’s just it’s the right bet. And, you know, this also accompanies another reality, which is the need for new skills is growing faster than ever. Right. We see a dynamic playing out on the world stage right now where we have more unfilled jobs and more people looking for work. And their match isn’t being made at skill because the skill requirements keep changing. And so, what I’m trying to help organizations recognize you have two choices. If you’re not able to fill your jobs, you can keep hunting on the open market, or you can become a place where you grow those skills and you control building your talent pipeline from within you control building more permeable boundaries with educational institutions in the world instead of waiting. So, for example, I do a lot of work in health care and many this is a really big moment, particularly in the United States where we have the average age of nurses in many states in the in America is 58 right now. And we have more people retiring, fewer people going into nursing schools and then going to the hospitals and saying, why are you waiting for the nursing schools to build your supply? You should be building your own nursing schools. You should be going to high schools or elementary schools and teaching and getting people excited. I said, Because you have not only a shortage of supply, you have a brand hit that the pandemic costs unfairly no fault of your own, that the sex appeal, the beauty and the joy of doing that work was exposed to be really difficult and thankless work and being put in impossible circumstances on a on a global scale in this country, in many countries, having to be at the bedside of someone, their dying moments because their family was forbidden from being.
Steve Cadigan [00:14:47] That’s an impossible place for people. And so, a lot of people. Yeah, I don’t think I want to be a nurse. No, thank you. Because they see how the pandemic has created a lot of friction in that. So, they’ve got to not just a skill issue, they have a brand of that career that took a hit. And so, this is why I think we have to stop waiting for other people to build our supply. The supply is not going to grow. You’re going to have to think more strategically around growing your own talent, and that’s what’s going to get people to come to you. This is what I say. If you want to win the war for recruiting, get out of the war for recruiting and become the place the best people want to fight. And that’s all about culture. That’s all about committing to making it the career journey really good. There’s a fast-food company. There’s two of them in the United States. Maybe they’ve hit the shores of Europe, Chipotle and Chick fil A. And they both have come out and said this is fast food, okay? They both have come out and said, “We know we are not your career destination.” We know for most of you we’re not your dream job. We want to be the best part of your journey. So come here. And Chick-Fil-A has on their career Web site of the three people they showcase, two of them don’t work there anymore. But two of them are saying, thank you, Chick-Fil-A, for helping me get a job as an emergency room nurse. Thank you, Chick-Fil-A, for helping prepare me and reimbursing my tuition requirements so that I can become a fifth-grade elementary school teacher. Wow. That is the future of work right there. That is a company that’s saying we’re playing the long game. And then what happens is you go into tick tock and I’m a bit of a tick tock junkie. For our listeners, if you want some good humor, I have a lot of fun comedic posts on Twitter, but if you go to Tick Tock and you type in Chipotle, you will see posts by former employees talking about how great it was to work there. So, creating that great experience creates recruiting collateral for you just because of the goodwill of how you’re treating your people. All right. That’s really interesting.
Jo Meunier [00:16:42] I love that. Yeah, that’s fantastic. I’m going to go check them out when we finish talking. But coming back to what you said before, I had a second question about that, about the air and the fears that people are facing as we look to the future of work and the pace of technology, technological change, which is changing so rapidly to this this fear that a lot of employee skills will become obsolete. But at the same time, new jobs are being formed that could potentially replace them. But then we have the skills gap. So how should organizations address the skills gap and where does the responsibility lie?
Steve Cadigan [00:17:19] So I believe I mean; the entire ecosystem has responsibility for facing this. This is governments, this is educational institutions. This is schools, this is businesses. And particularly businesses should be very, very concerned about this. I’ve come to the conclusion, and this is a bit provocative, but I’m going to say it anyway, that I believe the future of recruiting will hire people more on what they can learn than what they know. So let me repeat that. I think in the future we’re going to hire people more about what they can learn than what they know. And so, I had a big debate recently with some friends where someone said and it was sort of a, you know, we’re trying to provoke each other. One said there is no such thing as talent acquisition today. And I said, what do you mean? Because we’ve always called it talent acquisition. And they said, no, it’s experience acquisition. That’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been hiring people who have experience. We’ve not been saying, hmm, this person has shown over the course of their career they can learn things really quickly. There is self-study, they’re independent. They’re really a self-starter. They can figure things out. They’ve solved new things. And we can see based on what they did and the timeline of new skills that they’re using, they’re really on the frontline. They’re probably a low risk hire and a high up, you know, a high bet that likelihood that they’re going to be able to figure out new technologies here. All right. So that’s the shift. And this is your business has got to wake up, I believe, because we’ve been hiring someone to fit who does this. But we all know about recruiting. Every job I’ve ever recruited for in a month is significantly too dramatically different. So why are we hiring just for that? Because that is not going to be that in a month or two or three. We’ve got to look for what I call learning velocity and learning acceleration capabilities. And that’s why, you know, organizations need to look at a different skill set than just the experience and evidence that people can grow, learn new things, and also provide learning in the job. I’m not talking about, you know, organizations having to have like a university there, but you have to move the job from doing everything that you know to including a fair number of new projects, new assignments, new leaders, new teams, new challenges that are going to fill the void of my hunger to learn, but also helped me grow that adaptability. Right. And that’s a big shift.
Steve Cadigan [00:19:37] And it’s uncomfortable for businesses because we’ve built businesses to control, to predict, to have reliable, predictable, consistent results. And the way you do that is by having people do the same thing for a long period of time so that I build my confidence, you know, what you’re doing. But in the future, employees do want to be doing the same thing for a long period of time. And this is the pandemic has really exposed the floor of the organizational model, which this is a bit extreme, but suffocating the growth opportunities for people because that suffocation keeping your static is going to make me feel more confident that you will deliver a reliable, predictable outcome. Right. And what’s forcing businesses to have to change is me, the employee. I have more choices. I can see more opportunities. The world of career, you know, careers is more trade spurred than it’s ever been. And I want to go try something different. Why wouldn’t I? Just like if you go to Las Vegas and you go to the buffet, like, I don’t know what dessert I’m going to choose because I like all of them, you know? And it’s like I use the metaphor of going to Netflix on a Friday night and 2 hours later you realize you’ve just looked at previews for 2 hours and you haven’t chosen a movie. That’s what we’re facing right now. A lot of choice. And so, you have got to be the place that’s going to fill that hunger to learn, or someone will go find it somewhere else.
Jo Meunier [00:20:56] Yeah. And all these changes that are happening in the workplace, how do these affect different generations? I mean, you mentioned experience and learning a moment ago. So, the experience side is in Generation X, for instance, and the slightly older generations. And then you’ve got learners. Everybody’s capable of learning new things, Gen Z in particular, and they have all these resources at their disposal, and they’ve only ever known a workplace influenced by the pandemic. How do these how do these changes impact different generations?
Steve Cadigan [00:21:25] I’m going to give you probably an unsatisfying answer. I just have such an apprehension to categorize generations. And I don’t think I like to be categorized based on my appearance. The country I was born in, the language I speak, I think we are trying. We try to fall back on these generations because we want to find some comfortable antidote to help us address what feels like a really big challenge. I think human connection is the missing piece across all generations. People know that you have a vested interest in caring about them. And this is where I think we need to flip the script from measuring your engagement in the company to measuring the company’s engagement in their employees, asking people. Joe, what’s your vision for you? What’s your mission? Where are you going? How can I help you get there? VERSUS Hey, do you have a friend at work, Joe? Are you clear on the goals? Do you understand? You know what we’re trying to achieve here, you know? How engaged are you? We’re having the wrong conversations here. There is more out of our control as an employer that’s impacting people’s engagement. We need to engage in them, and that crosses all levels. Now, do I want, you know, people to recognize that some folks from different generations may be seeing circumstances a little bit? Yeah, but I think we are going a little bit too far in the conversation around trying to categorize everyone, Oh, if you’re a baby boomer, you’re this of your gen-z this of your millennial, that. I mean, I was just in Spain a few months ago with some of the top executives from the 25 of the largest firms in Spain. And I asked, What’s your biggest problem? Can’t hire people, Steve. And when we do, they don’t stay. And I said, well, why is that? And they said, those millennials, you know, the short attention span has a short attention span. They expect to be promoted tomorrow. They want more money. They’re just loyal to which I said, your children that you raised that that generation and they just sort of frozen said, well, I’m joking, but listen, 40 years ago, if you could see all the choice and all the opportunity that they have, if you recognize and appreciate that in the last 25 years, we not only have more new companies, we have more new industries, online gambling, Airbnb is the Facebook’s the Ubers, the, you know, the snaps, the Pinterest like all you know, whether it’s biometric feedback companies like there are so many new in just the medical profession itself in health care in the last three years, 85 new organizations hit unicorn status mean they’re worth $1,000,000,000. So that means nurses.
Steve Cadigan [00:23:57] Now, I have got all kinds of new choices where I can go do telehealth, I can go travel. Nurse That’s a beautiful thing. But employer in the hospital of those nurses, woo, you got a challenge because your demographic now has all this new choice, right? And so, I think we’ve got to just appreciate that it is not going to slow and so it’s going to. So, I was trying to help these executives understand why people are moving. Because there’s more choices, more new industries. And we’ve created this beast. We’ve created this technology’s unbounded new opportunities for people. So, which leads me to the so what? You know, so what are we going to do? So, what you need to think about is do you really think you can keep people longer? And if the answer is no, which it should be, then how can you create value when people are not staying as long? How can you do that? You can do it. If you look at Tesla, this is the greatest example there is out there right now. And it’s an over benchmarked company and its run by a crazy man, Tony Stark, or whatever his name is. But if you look at Tesla, they have been around less than any other car manufacturer in the world. This is an industry that’s a century old, okay? They’ve been around less than every other car manufacturer. They sell fewer cars; they make less profit. And they have the shortest tenure and the fewest people from the automobile industry there. But they are worth more than every automobile manufacturer in the world combined. Gosh, why and why does that happen now? Why is that? And people when I ask is that I mean, I was with, you know, 700 CEOs last week in a conference and they were just sort of frozen. I’m like, why? Why did the investors why do all of you, your financial advisors, why are they betting on that company? And now all these people that have been doing it really well for 100 years. You know, General Motors today is worth about 200 billion and test is worth about a trillion. General Motors. Okay. And so why is that? And what I believe is the investor community says they can innovate more. And I said, let that sink let that sink in for a second. The company that’s newest at the table that just arrived, it has people who are not from the industry can innovate faster than the people who are stuck doing things the same way over a long period of time. And so, I’m trying to say I offer that not to say, hey, that’s great company, you should be like them. But to say, do you see the innovative capabilities when you’ve got new people from different perspectives? Maybe you shouldn’t be so afraid of turnover because there is an opportunity to unlock real creativity there.
Jo Meunier [00:26:28] And in the same way, don’t be afraid of new ways of working. And we saw a lot of that coming through during the pandemic when people were suddenly sent home. A lot of companies were forced to try remote work for the first time. They had no choice. Some of them have stuck with it. Others haven’t. But one thing I must ask you is flexible work. And a lot of people still want flexible work. They’re not being given it. And it’s leading to all these issues around and the quiet quitting and the great resignation and so on and all these headline headlines that we’re seeing. So how should how should companies approach flexible work and how should these conversations play out?
Steve Cadigan [00:27:06] I think we have to step back and really appreciate that what we’ve been through is a phenomenon we’ve never seen before, we’ve never experienced, and we may never see again. The lives we were leading just stopped. It just stopped. It’s like we got hit by a car and we’re never going to be the same. We will hopefully live, but we’ll never be the same if you get hit by a car. And how can we expect people are going to think, want and desire the same things? And the laws of biology suggest that when you suspend something in a different place for an extended period of time, the opportunity for it to return to what it was really diminishes dramatically. And you know this from your work, that the longer you stop doing what you used to do, the less likely you’re going to return to those ways. And what many people found were things like, wow, I was home when my children came home from school for the first time in my life. I am not wanting to give that up or I’ve been able to donate more time because I’m not commuting on the train every day. I’m able to give more time to my church or my school or my, you know, spend more time caring for my elderly mum. And that has filled me with so much and they’re loath to give that up. And of course, they should be. Right. And so, here’s where I call the pandemic almost in a way, the hostile takeover of home and work. It’s no longer a balance. It’s an integration. And so, and I loved the fact that we shifted from conversations with coworkers, hey, can I have the status report? Like, give me the results to How are you? How are you doing? And that was the, you know, the entrance to every conversation that we had during pandemic. And I hope that human connection. Right. Is the path being the path forward. So.
Steve Cadigan [00:28:50] So I think, you know, if you’re thinking how do we get through this reality that the workforce is seeing their circumstances differently on a level we’ve never seen before? Is we’re going to have to experiment. We’re going to have to try hey, let’s try hybrid for a bit and see how it works. And by the way, hybrids have about a million different iterations. What is the week? What times? What offices? Who’s involved? If you someone said, Steve, should we go? Hybrid said, asking me if you should go. Hybrid is like if a waitress asked me what I want to order and I say food. I like some food like that is not that’s not the answer. You know, it’s like, do you want hot food, cold food, vegan, you know, meats, you know, do you want an appetizer? Do you want that? There are so many iterations of hybrid. So, it’s a very complicated thing. But I think what we have to do is appreciate that people experience something on a scale we’ve never seen before, and they have a right to want to consider their circumstances different. So, let’s have these conversations. Is this working for you? Like, how can we do this? And the organizations I think that are missing it are saying everyone back in, they’re not having the conversation with the employers were saying, yeah, but I was more productive, not just with my work in my life. It was fuller when I did it remotely. And I’m able to get more done for you. Are you? Why do I need to go back? So, they’re not even having the listening to, you know why conversations. They just got back. That’s a miss. I think that’s a mistake. And so, we got to us got to try and we got to learn, and I don’t have a I don’t have a strong position on either the right answer, other than if you’re not engaging your employees actively in this conversation, you’re going to cause some friction. And if it’s all back, I think you’re limiting the supply of talent. I want to work for you because of every recruiter that I know, every single one, the first question a candidate asks when they call is, Can I do the job remotely? And that’s not you know, obviously it’s not frontline workers. We’re talking knowledge workers, but that’s a reality we’re going to have to reconcile. We’re going to have to learn. And as you said a few minutes ago, I think the world on the general level got a little more comfortable that it wasn’t a complete nightmare working remotely. Things went reasonably, in some cases a lot better than before.
Steve Cadigan [00:30:59] And so and this is the conversation, I have to be honest with you, though, how with many business leaders, how’s it been during the. Oh, Steve, it’s just been brutal. We lost those people. And, you know, we had trouble communicating and our IT system couldn’t figure out how to do the VPNs from home and all. Post office. How’s business? Never been better. Yeah. Profits are up. Yeah. Yeah. So then why are you all depressed? You know, they’re depressed because they’re uncomfortable. That’s not the way they’ve led before. They’re uncomfortable that they may not. Know how to build trust and community in a remote, remote domain. Then they were able to enroll in-person. So, it’s scary right now. This is another really hard part of the future work right now is that there’s no benchmarks. Every company I talked to, Steve, who’s the benchmark, who’s doing this hybrid stuff really well. I go, Nobody, nobody. You need to be the benchmark. Don’t look at someone else because they’re not employing your people. They are not led by your leaders. You all have your own sensibilities. Your organization has its own nuance. Don’t even look at a direct competitor because they’re not you. And if you want to win, I think the hearts and minds of your employees show them you’re willing to try some stuff. You know, don’t say. From now on, we are all remote. Why? You don’t know that that long term is good for your customers? You don’t know. Why would you do it? Say for the foreseeable future? We heard you. We want to try this. Let’s see if we can make it work. But let’s reevaluate and give each other feedback. And then, of course, correct or, you know, figure out what we need to do.
Jo Meunier [00:32:25] Absolutely.
Steve Cadigan [00:32:26] And that got me going here, Joe. You really don’t.
Jo Meunier [00:32:29] This is brilliant, and it all makes perfect sense. And it’s a whole new world that we’re all trying to understand. But like you say, it’s all about human connection, experimenting and just seeing what works. That’s right. So many more questions. But we are running out of time, so we are reaching the end of our episode. Obviously, for our listeners who are enjoying this conversation, you can learn a ton more in the work week. And before we leave, Steve, could you just give us two or three takeaways for our listeners to take forward to help them get the future of work ready?
Steve Cadigan [00:33:00] Yeah. First of all, we just want to empathize with all of you, every industry, every part of the world is really challenged right now. But it’s also listened, the way we were was not the panacea. It wasn’t perfect. There were flaws. And we’ve been given an opportunity to build something better. That’s the whole reason I wrote Workweek. Let’s have that conversation. And it’s going to be uncomfortable. It will be, you know, but as Carol Dweck, who’s the godmother of the growth mindset, said, you know, when your brain is sort of like struggling, that’s when you’re growing. And we’ve got we’ve been handed an opportunity to rebuild better. You know that whole water cooler? Well, that really wasn’t a fair domain. It was based on who sat near the water cooler. And look at all the upside we’ve had, like on these Zoom calls, the person who’s always bullying in the meeting and over speaking, everyone can’t do it on a zoom call because they get drowned out when someone else is talking. So, there’s new. That’s right. That’s right. Or commuted. So, there are ways that we can really learn and, you know, please, you know, try your best to recognize that this is all this game is human connection. It is not the new fancy whiz technology. There are advantages to new technologies. But the real answer, the reason we’re using technology is to create, I believe, a richer human experience, not to have richer tech for the sake of richer tech. For us to make more money. It’s to have a greater human experience. And I think we’re losing the plot a little bit in those conversations. So, let’s grab control of it here and recognize that what’s going to differentiate you and your career, and your people and their careers is being more human. Those are the softer skills, if you will, that we that we need to rename power skills, as I say in the book. But thanks for having me, Josephine. Really fun.
Jo Meunier [00:34:45] Well, thank you for making the future work a lot less scary. And thank you for sharing all your knowledge and insights. And lastly, please, can you tell us how our listeners can get in touch with you, whether that’s through LinkedIn or Tik Tok, and how they can get hold of work?
Steve Cadigan [00:34:58] Sure. If you go to Steve cutting ecommerce, my website, I have a newsletter there. I’d like to share. You know what? What gets me excited? I really do. I know I may have, like, depressed some of you. I hope I haven’t, but I’m really trying to. I’m an optimist at heart. I’m here because I want to make the future work better. And you can find me at Steve at Cardigan Ventures, It’s also Steve Cardigan. Just search that up. We had a million views a few weeks ago, which is pretty cool. So always looking to add to that. And if you have ideas or stories that you want to share with me around a unique career path or some unique practices your organization’s experimenting with. I would love to share with the world. So please, I hope to hear from you. But. But thanks again, Joe.
Jo Meunier [00:35:44] Fantastic. Thank you, Steve.