For those of you who remember elementary physics, you may recall that Isaac Newton’s famous laws all have to do with motion. One states that a body at rest stays at rest (I have a relative who is proof of that one), and that a body in motion stays in motion. (Newton had devised some more obscure laws too, like whoever arrives at the pub last picks up the tab, and, if you call me “Fig” more than once, I get to punch you, but neither of those really caught on in the scientific community.)
Anyway, the point is that not only does the economy obey Newton’s first law, so do our models of employment – yes, both are always in motion.
Allow me to illustrate (with actual illustrations, no less).
Model 1: One company for life
– Lifetime security in return for lifetime commitment.
– No interest in, or perceptions of, what it’s like to work somewhere else.
– Little pressure on company to provide an exceptional employment experience.
– Generation: expected by Matures, remembered by Boomers
– Employer brand only impacts entry-level opportunities.
Model 2: Free agents
– Expectation to work somewhere else.
– No promise of security.
– Company needs to provide a signature employment experience to retain top talent, maximize engagement, and minimize attrition.
– Generation: embraced by X, adapted to by Boomers
– Employer brand differentiates employers.
Model 3: Distributed employment
– Work for multiple organizations simultaneously on discreet tasks/projects.
– Relationships are “as needed.”
– Guilds and other affiliations fill voids (social, benefits) left by loss of traditional engagement
– More virtual interaction increases difficulty of employers to provide a signature employment experience.
– Employer brand shifts from constructed to organic platform as distributed network conversations become primary focal point for development of perceptions.
Right now, we are at the beginning stages of the third model. The degree to which this model takes hold is in question. The degree to which we have to be ready for it is not.