The time is ripe for entrepreneurs, but will employees survive the next evolution? Maybe, but they're going to have to change, now.
The work world is shifting in favor of those who want to do something, contribute, create, innovate, make meaning, and own their lives. Recent studies show the workplace is headed in a participatory direction that will not accommodate traditional employees stuck in Industrial Age management structures.
The Evolving Workplace: Expert Insights is one such study. They identify seven trends. We'll look at four of them that do a great job of identifying where "work" and the "workplace" are headed.
Trend #1: Crowdsourcing and Crowdsource services. People will work everywhere and some will never meet. Just-in-time labor will reduce the number of permanent employees. Productivity will become more important than hanging around the boss. Thirty percent of Japan's workforce is already crowd-sourced.
Participation Age implication: The big elephant in the room is that kissing up to cover up for lousy productivity will be much harder for employees to do remotely. The lazy guy with a great personality might actually have to start working.
Trend #2: Productivity measured in outputs, not hours. This study says the whole world is moving in that direction.
Participation Age implication: 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). The Industrial Age taught us to trade time for money, but in the post-modern economy, time is the new money. People want freedom from the 9-5 and will produce more if treated like adults who are in charge of their productivity.
Trend #3: Values vs. 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.
Participation Age implication: This trend highlights the importance of hiring people who reflect your values and who you can trust (since you're no longer measuring time, but results). Stephen Covey's research showed that employer/employee trust is one of the most valuable factors in someone being productive. Going forward, hiring for culture, which cannot be taught, will replace hiring for skills, which can be taught. Skilled employees will have to learn to live in business community, not just produce in a vacuum.
Trend #4: Employee-led innovation. The best innovation will come from the "bottom up," not from management or R&D departments.
Participation Age implication: When we lead with values and not rules, we turn employees (supervised children) into Stakeholders (self-managed adults). Stakeholders take responsibility for their time and produce results without being monitored. More importantly, they will come up with great ideas on how to move the company forward. Management won't have to tell employees what to do; the Stakeholders will be the innovators that move the company forward.
Most revealing line from the report: "Strong resistance is expected from many parts of the labor force [to measuring output instead of hours].... The gap will widen between the best workers and the worst in terms of opportunities and earnings, contributing to greater income inequality and therefore potential social unrest."
In other words, a time-based culture lets people appear productive by simply having a car in the parking lot, and they will protest having been exposed as a drain on the company.
Having a job vs. working; Time-Based vs. Results-Based
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.
The work world continues to shift in favor of those who want to do something, contribute, create, innovate, make meaning not money, and own their lives. It should encourage all of us to move from being employees to Stakeholders.