Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Changing Employment World

The last few years have been as challenging as an economy as most people in the workforce today have ever experienced.  Unemployment has remained stubbornly high.  Corporate earnings have been challenged.  Bailouts by the government.  Mortgage crisis.  Wall Street vs. Main Street.  Whatever your take and whichever side of the issue you come down on, we all recognize that it has been tough.

Companies everywhere have been forced to re-examine the nature of work and of their workforce and offer some measure of flexibility in order to get the job done while remaining competitive in today's economy.  I am very fortunate to work for a company that understands the changing nature of the workforce and is positioning itself as a resource for both employers and employees.  We hosted a webinar yesterday that dealt with the rapidly changing expectations for both groups and some of the results were stunning.  The nature of the workforce is changing to more project-based and free-agent based work.  Companies and individuals that are slow to respond to the changes will be left behind in the economy by those that change quickly.

Over many years of interviewing people, one of the common threads I have heard from people looking for jobs is: "I can't/won't take your short term assignment because of ________."  The most common three answers to fill in the blanks are, in no particular order, 1)  I need benefits, I'm only wanting something permanent. 2)  That's too far/not enough money, so it's not worth my time. 3)  That would interfere with my unemployment.  All three answers are frustrating, if not understandable at least to a certain degree.  #3 is a personal pet peeve, but that's a subject for another blog.  Last week, our office interviewed an individual whose job search had been frustrating, with several starts and stops, ultimately they had not found what they were looking for.  A 1-2 day assignment came up, simply providing admin/reception help and this person agreed to do it.  They were absolutely overqualified for the position, but flexible enough to take the position.  The end result was that a position opened up inside that company and the person was brought back to interview and ultimately was offered the position.  The position they were offered isn't upper management, but it's not entry level either.  There will be benefits when they are hired and the work environment is a perfect fit for this employee and what they were looking for.  All because they had the flexibility to understand the nature of an opportunity to work.  If you are reading this, congratulations on your new position!

Both major political parties talk about their ability to create jobs and how their plan is better.  What I would be more interested in hearing is how either party can devise more opportunities for companies to create work.  Show me how companies can be incented to create work and grow internally and profitably.  Show me how employees can be rewarded for taking risks, being flexible and bringing value/insight/knowledge to companies without having to be squeezed in, like the proverbial square peg/round hole.  Show me that, and I and millions of other people will listen!