Workism is the false ideology that positions your job as the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose. It’s a term derived from “alcoholism” and “workaholic”, both not very positive. Companies that demand 24/7, 9-to-5 and 100% dedicated focus from employees will find it hard to engage talented people from younger generations.

“Flexibility at an individual level translates to agility at an organizational level”. This quote by Christina Wallace, lecturer at Harvard Business School, introduces a new method for companies to increase engagement and commitment of talented employees. Hybrid work models have ascended from necessity to a strategic choice for companies, offering a template that blends remote and in-office work with unprecedented flexibility. This new model avoids the rigidity of fixed office days for a fluid structure that accommodates meetings across diverse locations and fosters a work-when-and-where-you-are culture. This flexibility not only supports a broader spectrum of work-life balance but also broadens the talent pool from which companies can draw, unshackled by geographical constraints and local demographic developments.

Parallel to the evolution of how we organise work, the future of work will include the critical importance of appreciating unpaid activities and caregiving roles. Forward-looking companies are recognizing that supportive caregiving policies are not just ethical imperatives but strategic talent retention tools in a fiercely competitive labor market. Embracing such policies not only aids in retaining skilled workers but also aligns with a broader societal shift.

New leadership styles now that Gen X and Millennials are coming to the helm, advocating for empathy, inclusivity, sustainability and balance. Their approach, a departure from the hierarchical and profit-driven models of the past, emphasizes creating value for a broad spectrum of stakeholders. This leadership evolution aligns with the portfolio lifestyle’s ethos, advocating for a holistic view of success and fulfillment.

In recruitment, the transition to a skills-first approach over traditional degree prerequisites signals a move towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This strategy not only seeks to dismantle barriers to employment but also mirrors a commitment to fostering community welfare and individual development. The recognition of DEI as crucial for organizational success has never been more pronounced, with strategic efforts to integrate these principles into corporate cultures becoming a priority for businesses worldwide.

Anne-Marie Slaughter and Autumn McDonald of the think tank New America observe a gradual shift towards a new work-life balance and note that the younger generations, shaped by decades of crises, are questioning the productivity-driven culture of their parents. Icons like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, who prioritize mental health over performance, exemplify this shift, challenging the capitalist framework that equates worth with productivity.

The call to action for companies and employees is to investigate the impact of increased individual flexibility (when, where and how to work) can be a tool to gain organizational agility and productivity. We assist companies in becoming more agile with improved levels of employee engagement and commitment, by adjusting the organisation of work and the corporate values that go with it.

As the lines between work and life blur more each day and the corporate careerpath is no longer a straight line up. The term ‘portfolio approach,’ first introduced in our book ‘Flex or Fail’ by Prof. A. Bris, Dr. Tony Felton, and R.P.M. Mol in 2019, has emerged as a theme for those seeking an answer to the question “Why do we work?”. This concept, challenging the traditional, mono-focused career path, invites professionals to diversify their life’s endeavors much like an investor diversifies a portfolio. It advocates for a life where work, personal interests, family, and (self-)care are equally valued components, each contributing to the individual’s overall fulfillment and wellbeing.

Dr Tony Felton, Robby Mol, Professor Arturo Bris – May 2024

Please contact us at if you wish to be amongst a core group of innovative companies that are pioneers in the future of work and pay. RTA Consulting would be happy to provide consultancy support for your organisation on these topics, speak at your events or engage with you to expand the conversation.