We live in changing times! Today, a prosperous and fulfilling career is significantly more challenging to achieve. Despite a recent economic uptick, it appears that employment instability has become the norm.
This “precarious employment” environment is rooted in past trends that increased the competitiveness of the job market, made companies reluctant to hire full-time staff, and dramatically increased employment churn.
Those trends include:
- De-skilling, delayed retirement
- Excessive use of the “10% rule”
- Technical unemployment
- More complex hiring practices
- Increased speed of disruption
These trends together spawned a “core team mentality”, where companies make a full-time commitment to high-performing staff and then augment the team with contractors or part-time staff to achieve corporate objectives. This approach allows companies to reduce their risk and increase their flexibility to meet customer needs and market changes. But, it creates several challenges for both organizations and their employees.
For organizations, the challenge has been to create highly engaged employees who consistently deliver better-than-average shareholder returns when they know that their employment with the organization is precarious. While there are no sure-fire ways to solve this problem, successful organizations appear to have learned some key practices, including:
- Their management teams focus on understanding individual goals and then aligning them to those of the company.
- Companies have begun to shift their hiring practices from a funnel or “last person standing” approach to a more holistic approach based on the value that an employee can provide and their fit within the organization.
- Having a level of empathy, successful organizations create an environment where employees can develop and grow, thus increasing their future opportunities.
These actions together can ensure that the company is valued by current and future employees, and that translates into loyalty and higher engagement.
For employees, the challenge is to be viewed by the organization as an indispensable high performer, and to move from the contract position to the “core team.” Again, there are no hard and fast rules, but a few simple approaches can transform a worker from the first to be exited to one who is viewed as a key element in the organization’s success. These include:
- Employees should focus on providing value outcomes or results rather than simply producing output.
- Workers need to cultivate a strong network of people, within the organization, who can support their job responsibilities to ensure success.
- Successful employees focus on delivering value to those they serve, changing from a self-centred to a company-centred mindset.
These elements combined ensure that the employee will be viewed as a high performer and critical to the organization’s long-term success.
The core team mentality and precarious employment are here to stay, but successful companies and their employees know that this does not have to poison the employee/employer relationship. Rather, by working together toward mutually beneficial goals, organizations and the individuals who comprise them can learn to adapt to the changing environment and thus create positive opportunities for each to prosper.