The future is 'one big adventure', says Belinda Morris. Work isn't somewhere we go any more, it's something we do, and how we do it changes every...
Future of Work Pioneers - Bruce Huntley
The future of work is complex, and we can no longer dictate future challenges. Learn more about how we can ‘Navigate The Change Together’ from Bruce Huntley.
Over the last two years, we have interviewed 2,000+ Future of Work Pioneers who have shared their insights into new work paradigms. Today we feature Bruce Huntley as part of our series. Enjoy!
Bruce Huntley is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Tegria RCM and is responsible for the development and advancement of the DE&I strategy and infrastructure impacting organizational systems, policies, and practices for an inclusive and equitable workplace.
Bruce has over twenty-five years of HR experience in various industries and before joining Tegria in June 2021. Formally, Bruce led People operations as Vice President of Human Resources for Acclara Solutions, LLC., a Tegria Company. Before that, he worked for Target Stores, in operational, human resource and training roles, and was part of their grassroots efforts to bring diversity and inclusion to store level management.
Bruce holds a master’s degree in Human Relations and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Oklahoma, where he was instrumental in highlighting racial hatred and targeting on the university campus. He is currently a third-year doctoral candidate pursuing a Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree from Liberty University with an emphasis on theoretical concepts that alter leadership support for the inclusion of diversity.
I think the Future of Work is.…
Is complex. The future is here, and work is no longer just a job. It is a relationship, an identity, a way to affect the world in a way that was impossible in the past.
"Work in the future is an opportunity that must have a purpose and a vision and be agile and resilient to shift with the real challenges of a global digital world."
Work is no longer to be merely survived until the weekend but a mechanism where one can grow and be their best self. Thus, leaders in this world must shift from their power dynamic to a more relational position where inclusion and belonging flourish. Disruption is real; we can no longer dictate change but use work to navigate the change together.
What were the top three challenges you or your clients faced when Covid-19 began in 2020?
The organization has always been a very resilient one but not very agile. What I mean is that we were always outstanding in the short term, reacting to challenges that impacted the business. Additionally, returning to the status quo was essential to ensuring order and reliability of past success in predicting future success.
When COVID-19 began, our emergency processes were able to kick in and push us through, at least initially. But as time wore on, there had to be a shift in focus away from the business as usual and toward the individuals driving the business in this new world of remote work. How do we deal with disparities in internet accessibility, spatial inhibitors of workers’ homes, and the anxiety and pressure the pandemic caused, especially in our most vulnerable population? It wasn’t easy to shift our thinking to understand how we support the worker so they can support the business.
Lastly, shift our management styles from a proximity-driven model to a more remote/hybrid one. This takes intentionality on the part of leaders around technical and soft skills applicable in this new world.
How has the return to work been for you and your organization thus far? Have you landed on a policy?
Hybrid work for the organization has been a challenge. We have certain parts of our organization that must be in person, some not so much, and still yet some not at all.
As an organization, we are learning how to function in all three worlds and maintain a high level of client delivery. Instead of a strict policy, we opted for a more flexible one, still with responsibilities and accountabilities. This gives the organization ample room to focus on running a great business and on employee needs so the business can run.
What are the top three most influential decisions you’ve made over the past two years in managing teams and culture?
This is a very tough question to answer because decisions are not made in a vacuum or in a silo. Decision-making is carried out through the lens of our organizational values, making sure to consider intersectionality and impact on audiences both directly and indirectly. Thus, picking the top three decisions would be tough.
The last two years have brought on a multitude of challenges and continue to do so. From a DEI perspective, in listening to our employees, we had to decide how to help them be involved in the change they wanted to see in the world and channel that energy positively within the organization.
Using the Centre for Global Inclusion framework, we structured our program around their five approaches to this work. This gave us the opportunity to be flexible as each approach is appropriate based on the times and contexts involved. This decision helps us be purposeful in our methodology and not seem performative or shallow along the journey.
What is your current workplace strategy, and how did you determine it?
Our workplace strategy was born out of listening to our employees. Before the pandemic, working from home was a privilege offered to a select few. Then as we were able to prove people can be equally as productive in an office rather than away from one, remote work moved from privilege to necessity. We asked our teams that could work remotely if they would like to. Overwhelmingly they said yes.
"Some employees need a place to go to and human interaction to feel connected but also the flexibility to be remote—so scaling our office space footprint and being more strategic to meet everyone’s needs made sense."
Do you have teams within your organization that have different space, cultural, or organizational needs? If so, can you provide insight into how you anticipate or are currently managing that?
Indeed, we have what we call hubs all over the country, from Florida to Washington and several places in between.
These hubs provide those flexible spaces for people to interact and work together when a video call is insufficient. People leaders can reserve spaces in the hubs through the facilities management teams.
How are you working with your teams to help them design and manage team workplace policies?
"Workplace policies are always at the forefront of our minds as we navigate this new world of work. We continually ask, “How do we build policies that benefit the business and support our most important resource?” Designing policies that can do both these things can be transformative as it moves leaders to be more relationally oriented and less power-driven."
Using inclusive leadership behaviors like empathy, authenticity, humility, cultural intelligence (CQ), etc., helps to reinforce a culture of responsibility and accountability. Thus, managing workplace policies becomes cooperative, and the culture blooms.
How much flexibility do you plan on, or are you currently giving employees regarding where, when, and how they work?
We are finding that in the remote world, flexibility is vital. The organization must be clear of goals, metrics, OKRs, etc., that move the business forward and articulate those standards to workers plainly.
If workers understand what they are supposed to do and the goal they need to reach, you will be surprised at the creativity and innovation that grows out of that freedom.
Then the where, when, and how becomes their ownership of their work and will often far exceed a prescribed working session. Sure, parameters, such as legal requirements, schedules, deadlines, or budget constraints, that impact where, when, and how work is done. But again, if those guard rails are set by the organization and clearly articulated, workers will exceed expectations almost every time.
What does the purpose and vision for an ‘office’ look like from your perspective in the next five years?
"The office in the future will be a place to meet, cement relationships, and validate work completed over many hours of disparate proximity. Two things are certain: a large part of work cannot be remote, people are social beings, and even the most introverted worker (like me) sometimes needs human contact."
However, the ‘office’ gives that contact purpose and relevance rather than just a directive. Still, this makes the concept of inclusion that much more important.
Helping leaders understand what inclusive leadership and behaviors consist of in a limited proximal world is important. Eliminating the in-group/out-group mentality and understanding incivilities, disrespect, and bias will be important to maintaining healthy relationships in the new office.
What is one tip you’d give to your peers, or have you learned from your peers?
There are so many lessons learned from peers, especially in this accelerated convergence of so many different social, political, regulatory, and organizational upheavals in the world of work now. If I had to center on one lesson, it would be how top organizations have accelerated their competitive advantage by building resiliency into the fabric of the organization.
"Resiliency has many layers as it permeates the organization and its workers. From the DEI perspective, organizations look at what is important to the culture to sustain inclusivity in behavior and leadership, psychological and physical safety, and maybe the most important process, listening to employees."
These things drive the organization forward financially as well as its environment. The research is clear that DEI makes good business sense. Regarding resiliency in the organization, DEI is the glue that holds all of it together. Without those principles and behaviors of inclusivity, the organization will not be flexible and agile enough to face the VUCA world.
Can you share one prediction for the Future of Work that you’d strongly bet on?
"Organizations must figure out sooner rather than later how employees and leaders fit into the Future of Work. As much as we focus on the Future of Work, there needs to be equal focus on prospective employees and leaders in that future of work."
The move toward more relational-type leadership styles and a focus on employees’ skills to do work rather than filling a role will make a difference in organizational sustainability. Workers must be suited to have multiple skill sets across various role categories to remain relevant to the organization.
Consequently, the organization will need strategies and mechanisms to enhance existing skills, build new skills for the future, and move talent where needed. To have an agile organization, you need agile talent. Thus, focusing on the development of talent to meet future challenges is a must.