The best thing you can do for your employees may have nothing to do with compensation, benefits, or training. Instead, it may be to help them understand thechanging economic landscape, and the changing nature of work itself.

That's according to William Bridges, author of JobShift: How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs (Addison-Wesley, 1994). "The change I amdescribing--let's call it 'dejobbing'--has already happened" at companies including Intel, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Apple Computer, writes Bridges.Statistically, in-house and benefits-providing jobs are slowly beginning to disappear.

Bridges's advice to employers and people who think of themselves asemployees sounds radical to many ears: we need "to address head-on the issue of people holding on to their jobs." The work world of the future, he argues,will be populated by people who consider themselves "in business for themselves" and who, essentially, contract themselves out to employers. The wisecompany "will work with those microbusiness people collaboratively."

Workers, meanwhile, must become prepared to "act like people in business for themselves by maintaining a plan for career-long self-development, by takingprimary responsibility for investing in health insurance and retirement funds, and by renegotiating their compensation arrangements with the organization when and if organizational needs change." Companies that really care about their people, argues Bridges, will help them see and prepare for these tidal changes.