The New Employee: Creative. Adaptive. Temporary.

Rather than delude ourselves with the customs of a bygone era in which employees spent entire careers with one company, more hirers and hirees should come to the understanding that employment is one stop on a longer journey.

Ben Casnocha: Today in an economy that’s marked with technological change and globalization and heightened competition, uncertainty, companies recognize that they really need to be adaptive. And in order to successfully adapt their organizations, they need to be able to recruit, manage, and retain people who themselves are adaptive, people who themselves are entrepreneurial, able to take risk. Really, what organizations do to attract these sorts of entrepreneurial people is they deliver a value proposition that resonates with ambitious talent. And the way we distill that value proposition is in the word transformation. Amazing, ambitious, talented, entrepreneurial employees seek the opportunity to transform themselves, their organization, and the world at large. They want to know that by working at your company they will have the opportunity to acquire skills, develop experiences, grow their network, and in general make their LinkedIn profile look more impressive. They want to be on the winning teams within the company. And they want to know that they’re not just going to be shuffling papers, but really have the opportunity to transform the company’s trajectory.

In the modern world lifetime employment is over. It’s just not the case that great people want to spend 50 straight years working for the same organization. And it’s highly unlikely that the same organization will need that particular type of person and that particular personality and skill set for the rest of time. Far better to be open and honest on day one. Far better to have what we call an alliance conversation whereby the manager sits down with the employee and says: “What I do want you to do is to be able to commit to me ethically that you’ll stick around for a meaningful period of time, for what we call a tour of duty, and do real work at this organization that helps transform the company. And as your ally, I will make sure that over the course of that tour of duty I will invest in you. And that by you staying for that meaningful, but realistic period of time you will experience career growth. You will develop skills that matter in the market. You will grow your network.” That’s what the alliance is all about. Mutual investment and mutual benefit. Both sides get ahead if both sides can trust each other enough to invest in each other for a realistic period of time. That’s how you maximize employee engagement. And at the end of the tour of duty, maybe it makes sense for the employee to leave the company and move on or maybe it makes sense for the employee to do another tour of duty. And so I think that’s what the modern dynamic around employee engagement and retention looks like. It’s realism, but it’s with an emphasis on an alliance and mutual benefit in order to effectively engage and retain great people for realistic periods of time.

The brightest companies in business are always on the lookout for the brightest possible employees. What characteristics in particular are they looking for? Author and entrepreneur Ben Casnocha explains that versatility and an adaptive mindset can set you apart because taking risks is integral to 21st century success. Companies want employees who are able to roll with the punches and won't be afraid to stick their neck out.

Enter: job hopping and the employee tour of duty, which Casnocha calls "mutual investment and mutual benefit." Rather than delude ourselves with the customs of a bygone era in which employees spent entire careers with one company, more hirers and hirees should come to the understanding that employment is one stop on a longer journey.

Big Think is proud to partner with Mercer on Inside Employees' Minds, a series that examines employees' changing mindsets and the ways workplaces are responding to them.

Mercer’s new Inside Employees’ Minds™ research reveals what more than 4,000 workers in Canada and the US think about their jobs, their employers, and the changing work experience. It explores trends in employee engagement and the evolving employee value proposition, highlighting key differences by generation, job level, and more. The research confirms that, as business needs and the workforce composition continue to evolve — with the boomer generation moving toward retirement and the preferences of the younger generations starting to dominate — employers need to rethink and reshape their value propositions to lay the foundation for future success. In this compelling video series, Mercer business leaders and other noted experts share their thoughts on the transforming work experience and what it means for both employers and employees.


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