A Southern Methodist University alumnus, Jared Pope began his career as a Benefits and Employment Law specialist, focusing on ERISA, benefits, and employment matters.
Witnessing the limitations of hotlines and open-door policies in addressing harassment, discrimination, and misconduct, Jared was inspired to create a more effective solution. In 2018, he co-founded Work Shield with his wife, Jennifer Pope, and business partner, Travis Foster.
The company’s innovative platform offers a start-to-finish approach to report, investigate, and resolve workplace misconduct, with third-party investigators ensuring unbiased and efficient reporting.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Jared Pope: As a SMU graduate, I remember sitting on the lawn at graduation and thinking about the ways in which I would change the world. After law school, I realized that practicing law and studying it were two completely different things.
As a former Benefits and Employment Law specialist, I focused on ERISA, benefits, and employment matters, which ultimately led me to witness first-hand the broken system for reporting harassment, discrimination and misconduct – especially amidst the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Hotlines and open-door policies were not enough, and employees felt unsafe speaking up about the challenges and misconduct they faced. Inspired to make a difference and find a better way to mitigate these concerns, I co-founded Work Shield with my wife, Jennifer Pope and my friend and business partner, Travis Foster in 2018.
Work Shield is the first start-to-finish platform to report, investigate, and resolve misconduct, and connections with our third-party investigators allow for unbiased and efficient reporting.
With the incident management platform, employees have a real voice, and employers can have a peace of mind that each situation will be streamlined and resolved in an efficient manner. By protecting both employer and employee, toxic workplaces disappear and instead, positive cultures thrive.
In the past year, what is the greatest business achievement you’d like to celebrate with your team? Please share the details of that success.
Jared Pope: At Work Shield, we strive to continue to add value to our clients through the solution and services we offer.
I am beyond proud of our Work Shield team who has made innovative enhancements to our platform that provide our clients data and analytics capabilities, allowing them to make smarter business decisions for their organizations as well as provide their employees with a safe and secure platform to report workplace misconduct.
The enhancements are a collective win for the entire team, as it took collaboration and commitment from all our team members at Work Shield to accomplish this achievement.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Jared Pope: To keep employees motivated, fulfilled and happy in their roles, employers must recognize the need for work-life balance and always be fully transparent and honest with their employees.
When you provide flexibility, employee satisfaction and retention rates will increase as a result. Transparency is key to organizational success, from building trust to increasing productivity.
From the staff to the C-suite, free and open communication with one another is vital to build a great workplace and is even more important when times are tough to mend a negative situation or the environment as a whole.
Regarding adapting to the current shift, at Work Shield we allow life to happen.
Our employees can find the balance of their professional and personal life and will rest assured knowing their well-being, mental health and life outside of work are all top priorities.
We provide a safe and secure place for employees to raise their voices and be heard on issues and concerns, suggestions for improvement and notes on what is and isn’t working.
We welcome all ideas and suggestions and pave the way for consistent open communication to take proactive steps to prevent the trending “quiet quitting” phenomenon. The secret to keeping employees motivated, happy, and successful is simple – we must listen to them.
Here is a two fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Jared Pope: I have been influenced by The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw. I was drawn to the book to get a perspective on what the lives of my grandparents were like. I came away humbled by the sacrifice this generation gave of themselves for the many freedoms we enjoy today.
This generation grew up in a time of struggle and sacrifice and they answered the call during WWII to serve their country. When they came home, these servicemen and servicewomen continued to live their lives as everyday heroes.
I think it is important for us to learn from those generations who paved the way before us, and this particular generation teaches us about grit, service, courage, and responsibility in the face of adversity.
As much as I connect to The Greatest Generation, the book I have gifted most to others in business is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Horowitz goes deep into hard topics that most business leaders face, whether they are leading start-ups or larger organizations. He mentions that the most important lesson in entrepreneurship is to embrace the struggle.
The struggle is real, and it’s not going away, so business leaders need to be able to DO hard things repeatedly in order to succeed in the long run.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Jared Pope: The real challenge in today’s workforce is the lack of face-to-face interaction. COVID taught us all that the need for human interaction and collaboration is essential to growth and organizations need it to achieve their goals.
To combat this, I predict a shift back to a more hybrid or in-office working culture in the future. Working alongside peers and employers in this setting will build stronger bonds and increase productivity – not to mention pave the way for team bonding outside of the office, too.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Jared Pope: From the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, and quiet firing to labor shortages and layoffs, the past few years have been a whirlwind for both employers and employees.
Looking ahead, organizations need a people-first mentality.
By making conscious strides daily towards a happier, healthier workplace and not just “checking the box”, organizations can finally thrive. Employees will recognize their efforts and will forge ahead, actually excited about their job, no longer just going through the motions.
My favorite quote is that you “control what you can control; [and] don’t worry about anything else” – which leads me into some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my personal and professional life. We all make mistakes, but what distinguishes a leader from a great leader is how an individual gets up, tries again and responds to the mistakes.
2020 is the best example for testing this life lesson of focusing on what you can control and letting the rest go. Our team at Work Shield had certain goals we wanted to hit and various projects to complete to attain these goals.
Then COVID-19 happened, and everything came to a screeching halt. Our team began working remotely, as did many of our clients’ workforces. We realized that we were going to have to adapt and adapt quickly.
We began thinking about how we could provide clients with resources to better deliver our service and also to help them get through this time. By adapting, these pivotal changes ended up adding more value to our clients than the projects that we had originally slated.
The hardest part at the beginning was initially tabling these projects, without knowing if what we were implementing would achieve our desired outcome.
But letting go of most of these original plans was necessary to free our headspace to focus on what was in front of us, what we could control. But through adapting to the current environment, we were able to double our client base during the pandemic.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Jared Pope: True success takes time and happens in waves of trial and error and through the lessons learned because of it. Success is continuous.
Particularly on a business level, although this applies to me personally as well, I am focusing on doing what is “essential” to move our company objectives forward.
There are so many distractions pulling on our time and attention these days, from social media to the news, it’s persistent, relentless and ultimately distracting. I was inspired to embrace this practice based on Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.
We cannot create more time, and it sure feels like it’s in short supply these days. It wasn’t that long ago that I found my calendar booked solid with meetings I really didn’t need to attend andlunches that could be attended by another team member, all while my work was piling up.
By looking at each activity and asking if it’s essential to reaching my goal, I am able to reject everything else. Now I’m using the same amount of energy but directing it more purposefully to create the biggest impact on where it matters.
Practicing the concepts of “essentialism” has been beneficial enough to empower our team members to do the same. If they participate in meetings in which their contributions are not needed, perhaps they don’t need to attend those meetings and can gain an hour of their day back to focus on what is “essential” for success in their role within the company.
By focusing on what is “essential” in each of our roles rather than trying to do it all, we are able to make the highest contribution toward our goals, which ultimately equates to success.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jared Pope for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jared Pope or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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