The Untethered Career

Blog Post

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March 15, 2019

Michael Moran

Today’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

The job for life is no more and employers no longer own their employees and control their careers. Instead employees choose to lend themselves to companies as it suits them, to undertake work that interests them; the theme is around untethering and providing an employee experience that is attractive to this agile and mobile workforce.

At the recent FuelX conference Josh Bersin talked about his research on today’s economy and the new world of work, touching on the increasingly noticeable crisis in productivity, engagement and trust, and exploring best-practice strategies that organisations can implement to address this crisis. He explains that “companies aren’t companies anymore. They’re a collection of individuals.”

The evolving business environment means organisations need to redesign work so people can progress regardless of their current role or place in the hierarchy. In a future likely to be dominated by robotics, AI, and other forms of automation, jobs won’t disappear but they will change and as result there will massive opportunities for those who are prepared.

Learning for earning

Bersin says the growth drivers of the future are learning and engagement. We’ve been talking about engagement for a long time and some employers still don’t seem to get it. Employees who work on flexible contracts, who are freelance, agile and mobile will work where they choose to work and if you don’t provide an attractive environment, collaborative culture and engagement employment experience the good people will choose to work elsewhere, very likely with your competitors.

“The learning curve is the earning curve” says Bersin and reiterates what research has been telling us that the primary requirement of younger workers in development opportunities. In a world of work that calls for complex and hybrid skillsets you have to be ready for the fact that workers will decide where they want to work and find somewhere that provides them with the learning opportunities and options that will fulfil their aspirations. In fact, Bersin looked at Glassdoor ratings and his analysis shows that “career opportunities” are twice as important (measured through correlation) as compensation in predicting whether or not an employee would recommend your company as a great place to work.

It is worth checking out Reid Hoffman’s book the Alliance. He makes the case that today it is the employer’s responsibility to make their employees more employable, and that employability probably means they will at some point end the alliance.

Employee experience

The workforce is intrinsically linked to business growth, agility and innovation. This means that when you think about the “employee experience”, you have to” think about how to stop interrupting people and think about how to make their work easier, more productive, and more meaningful.” This means empowering employees to make their own decisions related to their work and letting them design their own way of working.

Whilst not subscribing to the views of Jacob Moran’s recent podcast guest Cal Newport that employees need to be untethered from all distractions in order that they can focus on key tasks, he does have a point. Does your HR process free up people to do their work, or do you just get in the way! So what should HR/LD be doing to free up people to do their best work.

Our recommendations for those in HR, L&D and leadership in general are:

  • Coach team members
  • Invest in quality on-boarding and career development
  • Reward workers for helping others in their jobs
  • Build a self-directed learning experience at work

The “employee experience” really matters in the current environment. If your organisation is not respected, well rated on social media platforms, and seen as a good place to work, they you are likely to find it harder to attract talent. Those with in-demand skills are able to move around at will and they will move to the workplace that serves their needs.

At 10Eighty we believe that people go to work to be part of something bigger than themselves; they want to be part of something meaningful, to contribute and to help others.

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