“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” You were probably asked that question as a child, and you have probably witnessed it being asked as an adult. You may even have asked it yourself, whilst parents and grandparents try hard to camouflage their anxiety in response to answers such as ‘air hostess’, ‘dancer’, ‘bank manager’ or ‘mermaid’.
It is fair to say that the desire to structure a career path is ingrained in us all at a young age, and this desire persists through our time at school and further education. There’s often a general assumption that one should be seeking a job for life – because that’s what our parents sought – and their parents before them.
The whole mindset of work is changing – employers are being pushed to provide more, while employees are being nudged to ask for more.
Today the question of a single career becomes increasingly less relevant. Not only is it becoming less and less important for prospective employers, but a plethora of diverse experiences and transferable skills can actually be quite an asset.
People who have performed well in a variety of roles have different techniques, insights, and attitudes which become transferable. As stated by Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder: “More workers are pursuing opportunities with various companies to expose themselves to a wider range of experiences, build their skill sets, or take a step up the ladder in pay or title.”
Employees – this is your time to expect more
Now is a good era for the employee. In this age of digital and start-ups, there are an increasing number of rewarding and stimulating jobs that offer the temptation of greater harmony between life and work. There is also no expectation that any one of them needs to be your ‘chosen career’. There is great freedom knowing you are not trapped on a career path if the subject or the work is no longer of interest.
Not only is there more choice, there are also more rewards as employees begin to expect more from both their employer and their work environment.
Employers – reap the rewards of happy staff
The changes we are seeing are not solely to the advantage of staff. Au contraire. Employers can benefit greatly from the very natural desire to experiment with a range of careers.
As the very notion of a job for life dissipates so does the rigidity that once supported it. It is interesting to note recent studies showing that 76% of employers are happy to welcome past employees back into the fold. Not too long ago, 50% of employers in the UK specifically forbade previous employees from returning to the workplace after leaving.
So why re-hire a former employee? If they left on good terms, re-hiring enables an organisation to welcome back an individual who knows in advance the company, its culture, ethos and hierarchy. Also, crucially, that employee will have gained new experience outside of that particular corporation’s bubble that they can apply.
Of course not every employer will appreciate the experience borne from diverse careers. Instead of appreciating the spectrum of skills in a toolbox, they may rather regard it as job-hopping, fickle or unreliable. That may well be a blinkered way of viewing someone with a unique portfolio of skills – the fact of the matter is that migration can result in talented assets that bring an awful lot to the table.
The unrelenting turnover of employees in London is a double-edged sword. Whereas some employees bend under the pressure of uncertain times, others turn the turmoil to their advantage and embrace the freedom to experiment without sacrifice or firm commitment. Employers benefit from new, agile methodologies and cross-fertilised skillsets. The future of work is happening now.
What can we learn from this age of new found freedom of choice? What secret skills should we all be developing? If current trends continue, employees who can adapt quickly are going to be recognised as the workplace heroes needed by industry – less so the worker committed to a sole career. The future of work means embracing experience in order to pick up new transferable skills.
Today we are simply scratching the surface of the ‘future of work’
Today we are simply scratching the surface of the ‘future of work’ in the context of a single career – and certainly raising more questions than we answer. The evidence points towards bigger shifts to come.
The future of work is as yet undecided, but progressive campaigns like ours, conversations on social media and news in the national papers continue to flourish with joyful abandon. The changing face of work is happening now. We’re keeping an eye on it, and enjoying playing our part.