Trends in Employment

Scott Francis
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Really interesting read on Inc.com, entitled “Unmotivated Employees Won’t Like Where the Work World is Headed“.

Five trends in this one, each one is interesting to think about.

Crowdsourcing.  The article correctly points out that more and more work is “crowdsourced” or outsourced (they don’t truly distinguish between the two in the article).  The punchline in the article: “The lazy guy with a great personality might actually have to start working.” – Because it is harder to kiss up from a remote location.

Measuring Productivity in Outputs, not Hours. This is something that we see happening all over the economy, when possible.  I’ve written several times on the subject of hours being an input rather than an output.  It’s nice to see that idea picked up in Inc.com’s article.  However.  See the “Crowdsourcing” implication above – in some cases the guy perceived as “lazy” in the office just gets their work done faster, and then has more time for idle chit-chat.  In a remote or crowdsourced world that person could more efficiently capture additional work opportunities, or to escape judgement for apparent idle time.  “This is a results-based culture, replacing the traditional time-based culture. In our company, we have no office hours, and no vacation or sick time. We expect people to produce, and then go play with their dog (or vice versa).”

This is the core of the argument for why you pay a specialist more.  Not because their time is worth more, though that is a common turn of phrase, but because they produce more valuable output with the same unit of of time.

Values versus Rules.  “Values, which guide and encourage personal initiative, will be more prevalent than rules, which box people in, dull their thinking, and keep them from innovating.”  I just think a business is more efficient if it’s team members have shared values that inform the decisions.  While two people might make different decisions in the same situation, if they have the same values, you can at least narrow the scope of outcomes to ones which are consistent with those values.

Employee-led innovation.  I don’t actually think this has changed – many of the best innovations have always come from employees.  The questions is whether those running the company were open minded to those ideas and innovations – if not, you often see new company formation follow.

The final conclusion:

The future doesn’t bode well for Industrial Age employees who don’t mind going to work (time-based job), but don’t want to actually work while they are there (results-based work). But it looks very bright for Stakeholders who want to “make meaning”, not just money, to take ownership, and get a life at the same time.

This is an argument in favor of the old conventional wisdom to “do something you love.”  Because if you’re doing something you love, you’re much more likely to be a Stakeholder and to be results-based rather than just punching the clock.