Thursday, May 13, 2010

Emerging patterns in employment.

Post 487 - According to Tammy Erickson, a member of the Concours Group, expect to see these five characteristics of the way we work becoming ever more prominent in the near future:

- Two-job norm.
More people will have two sources of income. Instead of relying on a salaried job with full benefits, employees will create a series of backup options. For many, especially those in creative or knowledge-based work, this is likely to include becoming an entrepreneur. A second job or even a small entrepreneurial venture will provide a safety net, giving people a small measure of control over their fate in an increasingly unstable world.

- Less "off hours" work.
Recession-management approaches that made full-time employees take a-day-a-week "off" raised some new questions in the minds of employees who'd been working virtually 24x7. What is a "day?" Eight hours? Twenty percent of the time normally worked each week? For many, these questions lead inevitably to: If they only want me to work four days a week, why am I working more than 32 hours? Many companies have come to rely on very long work-weeks as staffing cuts lead to more work for the remaining individuals and technology facilitates round-the-clock work. Expect to see more push-back about this - in part because many individuals will be spending time advancing their second work option.

- Competition for discretionary energy.
“Engagement” has been a hot topic in talent management circles for the past decade. But its benefits have focused primarily on attracting and retaining employees. Increasingly, managers' focus is shifting to competing for the employee's discretionary energy, competing with other priorities in the employee's life, including other options for work. This may mean replacing employees who're only "going through the motions." More and more of the work in today's economy can’t be done routinely by just unthinkingly going through the motions. Instead, success requires the spark of extra effort, creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

- More diverse arrangements.
Today, many companies utilize a variety of flexwork options. In the near future, these kinds of arrangements will begin to take hold in more significant ways, driven by employee preferences, facilitated by new technologies, and supported by new managers who are themselves more comfortable dealing with virtual work.

- Transparent or "adult" arrangements.
This change involves the growth in "communities of adults" - a philosophy of recasting the employment relationship from one of paternalistic care to one of adult choice. A simple example is offering a menu of benefit options and letting employees choose those that work best for them. More advanced practices encourage employees to "own" their own feedback processes and even set their own compensation levels. These sorts of changes won't be in widespread use this year or next, but they're already used by the many progressive companies. More of this kind of innovation is on the way, so keep your eyes open for examples.

The key for employers and employees is defining a win-win; a compromise that maximizes the employees' contributions and efficiency, while also respecting their values about life style and work balance. In the longer term, employers must become more creative and flexible in order to recruit and retain Gen X and, in particular, Gen Y employees. These younger workers, who have many valuable skills and lots of new knowledge, are quickly becoming the largest part of the recruiting pool.

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