The Drastic Shift In Employment Trends, Massively Accelerated – Forbes - Freelance Rack

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Monday, June 15, 2020

The Drastic Shift In Employment Trends, Massively Accelerated – Forbes

Serial Entrepreneur, Author, University Professor, Innovation Leader, Venture Investor, Adviser and Public Speaker. Learn More.

Who chooses who? Traditionally, employers offered a position, interviewed the candidates and negotiated the terms. They had all the options and all the power. Employers controlled the hours, location, compensation and benefits. But all that is about to change drastically and rapidly.

The Slow Transition

At first, contracting was an idea conceived by employers in order to be able to fluctuate their employment base as needs oscillated. Some employers even used the contracting tactic to get around unions. It was an approach to avoid expensive benefits, rooted in cost savings, increased flexibility and corporate profits at the expense of employees.

Slowly, employees started liking the flexibility and the very capitalistic idea of being their own boss, making decisions on when they were available and who they chose to work for, not for 20 to 30 years, but for 20 to 30 days or less! In 2018, close to 57 million people in the U.S. freelanced, and over 61% of those said they were freelancers by choice.

Technology now makes it possible for employees to sign up on contracting sites in just a few minutes and make themselves available for hire. In fact, 64% of freelancers find jobs through these sites or elsewhere online. The trend offers both flexibility and access to a less-expensive global labor force through various online contracting sites (e.g., Hubstaff Talent, Credo, Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, Outsourcely, etc.). Research shows that 89% of people ages 18-26 see flexible working as a long-term career path. They prefer choice to the illusion of permanency.

The Added Fuel

COVID-19 has forced employers to unchain employees to work from home. It’s a trend that will further accelerate as work-from-home technologies mature and companies start realizing the benefits of reduced real estate costs. Additional fuel will be added as companies begin to use the crisis-induced mass layoffs as a legitimate excuse to increase productivity through artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation tools (RPA) and eliminate full-time positions.

The Perfect Storm

A contact-free economy is ahead — a technology-centric business environment with great promise and considerable challenges. On-demand contracting technologies, employees’ preferences for independence, improved remote work technologies and the changing nature of jobs after COVID-19 have created the perfect storm. The contracting and remote work trends offer employers a larger and often cheaper talent pool and greater flexibility. However, the same trends will drastically shift the power of choice from employers to employees.

Unions Of One

We are only at the beginning of this shift of power: Workers have expanded their options and don’t need to be dependent on one employer for their livelihood. The future promises a much different work environment and, eventually, a complete shift. Not long ago, companies had control over their brands and messages. Now, the masses do, as they freely express their opinions online. Once, media giants controlled communications and news. Now, people do, as they create microblogs and YouTube videos and offer alternative news perspectives. Not long ago, a massive number of people had to coordinate for months to organize a union to gain protective powers. Today, we are facing the prospect of “unions of one,” powered by technology and empowered by the forces of a free economy. Each individual is a union of one. Each person is their own boss and controls when, where, for how long and at what compensation to accept work. The new entrepreneurial-centric employees can go beyond their immediate geographies and tap into a world of opportunities with a single click.

Soon, there will be organizations that will act as your agents. You will sign up with a single company (your representative) that offers health insurance, 401(k) and all types of benefits that you can choose or reject, menu style. If an organization wants to hire you, it will contract with your permanent agent, who can negotiate on your behalf. Your paycheck will be issued by your agent, and you will decide your pay patterns and who you work for. You’ll hold the power of employment and income. Employers will be able to look for you when they have a need and pick you from your profile (a resume and sometimes a short video), and you will choose where to go from there.

So what do I do as an employer?

1. Realize that resistance is futile. This train has left the station and is picking up speed. To leverage any change to your advantage, you have to acknowledge the change and embrace it.

2. Rethink how you will work with a more dynamic workforce, shorter-cycled employment, and global contractors working from a distance. Reexamine your processes and workflow. Give up your addictions to sameness and old habits.

3. Get ahead of the curve. The earlier you start, the more opportunities you will have. Early advantages are often much more profitable.

4. The contact-free economy, powered by technology, is here to stay. The old normal is gone, and the new normal will not be static. Get comfortable with technology fast, and make the investments necessary, both mentally and in capital.

Unlike popular beliefs of the past, change is not a situation to manage. It is a transition of mind and actions. For some, it shapes a growth path and a reason to evolve. For others, it offers a struggle to let go of staleness of sameness. When you push back against change, it applies an equal and opposing force that impedes progress. When you ride the wave of change, you multiply the force of advancement and accomplishment. It is your choice.


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