Locally and globally, we continue to see that the nature of jobs is profoundly changing, and what we do in order to earn our incomes, and how we do it, will never be the same. Importantly, none of this will ever again conform to what were the norms or rules or expectations across companies or through the years. The business of getting, keeping, being rewarded for and losing jobs has become a virtual free-for-all.
This has a huge impact on our lives.
Here are some of the things I am seeing as it pertains to workplace trends:
- Everything is in motion. Like Accenture, Crayon, IBM, Best Buy, and many others, work gets done wherever you are. Corporate headquarters can even be in cyberspace. Telepresence is also gaining in quality and popularity.
- More workers are moving around the world to live, work and retire. There is increasing demand for high-end and low-end (personal services) jobs, leading to a sagging middle in the job market. Alan Blinder of Princeton University has made a point of distinguishing between personal services and impersonal services – if it can be digitized (like much of medicine and finance), it doesn’t have to be done in geographic proximity. If it requires direct contact, like plumbing and building, it is more difficult to outsource. Now we are seeing the offshoring of even more personal service providers, such as tutors and concierges.
- Old skills of many Americans no longer match job requirements in an information age economy. This is contributing to long-term unemployment (six months or longer). The long-term unemployed tend to have more health problems, their children get less education and, in turn, inherit their own problems when they enter the job market.
- The workplace itself, in many cases, is coming to resemble more of a design studio than an industrial center. Emerging core values will likely be collaboration and innovation.
- A shift from input to output. While many employers are increasingly observing and tracking employees to reduce slacking and absenteeism, others are doing away with the clock altogether and evaluating output rather than input.
- While there is a great deal of emphasis being placed on managing younger generations of employees, the older generations are lost in the sea of turbulent job surfing, too. Many younger people make their demands up front, and communicate more informally up, down and across the organization. It comes as no surprise to them that in each place they land, the culture is different, the levels of integrity are uneven, the social networks are in play, and the measurement parameters are not consistent. But those who are older are the ones who are befuddled by the virtual office, the breaking down of silos, the differing expectations from one organization to the next, and the short-lived tenure of the jobs they hold.
- There are no “career paths” any more in one place or one industry. Plus, there is no longer any guarantee that the job will even be there as long as a year later. There are no longer any rules, there are no longer any promises, and there is no longer much trust. That means there will have to be evolutionary change, if not revolutionary change, in the way people are prepared for work, for life, and for life between jobs and after work.
- “Flexible” and “alternative” staffing arrangements have proliferated. Many people are looking at multiple temporary jobs. It has acquired new currency in this recession, especially among white-collar job seekers, as they cast about for work of any kind and companies remain cautious about permanent hiring.
Clearly, the processes, protocols and cultures of organizations are divergent as never before. As a result, getting and keeping talent is taking on all kinds of new dimensions.