The traditional agreement between employer and employee is gone. Learn about the different types of workers and the main components of the new contract between a hirer and worker.
- So let's look at the brave new world of unbundled work from the perspective of the worker. In the past, you could argue that the typical work context was one person, one job. But in an unbundled world of work, you might actually have a completely different relationship to work. You might have a full-time job, but you might also be doing a little consulting work on the side. You might even be writing online. You might even be working on weekends with an idea for a start-up company. Together this is what I call a portfolio of work with a variety of work-related roles.
Just like an investor has a portfolio of assets sort of distributing the risk, so will workers have increasingly the same mentality. Of course there's a marvelous simplicity when a worker just has a single job and a single paycheck. But although we can feel nostalgic for that simpler time, the truth is that the contract, the agreements between the worker and the hirer has changed dramatically. Fewer companies today take responsibility for the long-term employment of their workers. And workers, especially younger workers, increasingly want to switch to new work situations if the current one doesn't exactly match their expectations.
As a result, the traditional set of agreements between workers and managers, the written and unwritten agreements about how work and jobs are structured, performed and compensated, all those rules are changing dramatically. And they're going to continue to change. So what if I told you that every single member of your current team was only available to you for another six months, and then you'd have to find a completely new team? You might think of them today as temps or contractors or maybe even short-term employees.
LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman calls these stints tours of duty. Well, how would you approach the entire process of finding, hiring, getting each worker up to speed so they're effective as quickly as possible, and then allowing them to move on to their next project? Or, what if you needed someone to perform a very targeted set of tasks, and you had to find them using an app, just like using Uber or Airbnb? That's often called a gig, and today is thought of being part of the gig economy.
Or, what if you could only hire team members who worked for half the week, and they all had other projects for other organizations the rest of the time? Today we call them part-timers. Or, what if you hired a complete team which would perform all the tasks you needed for a specific project then go way? Today we call them consultants. And what if you had to manage a mix of workers who held all these different roles? And what if a number of them worked in other places around the world? Now that's an important thought experiment for you, because it's happening in organizations and businesses all around the globe.
And if it hasn't already happened to you, it likely will in the near future. So how should we think about this new contract between the hirer and the worker? Let's start by looking at it as a set of agreements between equals. Sure, you provide the work opportunity and the compensation, but the worker is solving important problems for you. Call that a collaboration or a team activity or a partnership. And like the unbundled world of work, the new contract needs to be dynamic, constantly changing, and continually redefined.
In the same way people are going to have a portfolio of work, you might think of yourself as a manager with a portfolio of problem solvers. And you may even have this already, a group of core workers who are full-time and long-term key contributors who are working with you for say six-month stints, and contractors who are working half or part-time, as they also work on projects for other employers. If all that sounds a little messy and chaotic, well, it is. But it's also vibrant, dynamic, and rapidly changing, just like the world of unbundled work.
The formally hard walls of the organization are softening, and it's critical for managers to embrace the flexibility that that provides. So if you had to have a portfolio of problem solvers, think of some of the tools you'd need to have on hand. You'd want to have first effective new ways of describing the requirements for the work to be done. You'll also need a widespread network of relationships so you could rapidly find the kind of help you need on an ongoing basis. Next you're going to need a rapid vetting process so you and any candidates could quickly collaborate to determine if you have a good fit.
And you'll want a speedy onboarding process so that workers can immediately integrate with your team. Finally, you need a fast decoupling process so that contributors who have completed their stints can move on. So here's your assignment. Pick one team member and ask them to write up what they think their top five or six agreements are with you. Use that as a working document and make your own edits until you both agree it clearly states what success looks like for that person in their particular job. And treat it as a living document you each commit to updating once a month for the next three months.
Then have a discussion to see how it's working.
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- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working