February 21, 2019 | 03:58 PM


03.04.20146 Ways To Combat The Death Of Long-Term Employment

What should organizations do to adapt?

Jacob Morgan, Forbes.com

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why long term employment is dead and never coming back.  The crux of the article was long-term and lifetime employment are pretty much non-existent today and aren’t showing any signs of coming back.  This isn’t just about millennial job hopping, this is about a big shift in overall employee tenure.  At the end of that article I ended with a question which I promised I would tackle in another post, this post. So, now that we know that long-term employment is dead, what should organizations do to adapt?  Should we just accept this and move on?  Should we try to deny that this is the new reality that we live in?  Or, should we adapt the way our organizations work? Hopefully you know the answer.  The solution isn’t so much about trying to keep people at your company longer as it is adapting to changing landscape.

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People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons such as better opportunity, more money, improved work-life balance, better leaders, and plenty of other things.  So does this mean the solution is simply to give people more money, offer workplace flexibility, and retrain all of the managers?  No, because employees will still leave for those very reasons. So what should organizations do? Here are a few ideas.

Build internal freelancer programs

According to Intuit, over 40% of the American workforce is going to be comprised of freelancers by 2020.  These are employees who are leveraging marketplaces such as Elance and oDesk to find projects to work on.  When things are completed they move onto the next project.   Why not create your own internal freelancer program where employees can select the projects they work on?  When those projects are completed they can move onto the next one.  This is exactly how Valve, the popular gaming company operates.  Employees pick the projects or teams they want to work on and when their job is completed they can either create their own project and recruit others or join an existing project.

Creating organizations based on want instead of need

This is a topic I’m exploring in much more detail in my upcoming book, The Future of Work (Wiley, Sept 2014).  The premise here is to understand that organizations must shift from assuming that employees need to work there to focusing on ways to get employees to want to work there.  We are moving towards a world where money is no longer the only factor that employees care about when deciding where to work.  Employees care about things such as flexible work environments, faster feedback, and doing meaningful work. In fact, many employees would be willing to take a pay cut to work for an organization that offers flexible work environments.   So, one of the things organizations can do is focus on creating a place of “want,” which means, understanding what employees care about.

Implement work rotation programs and ensure employees are aware of them

Employees shouldn’t be hired on the assumption that they are going to be stuck in the same role or in the same department for the rest of their lives, while slowly climbing the corporate ladder (many times there isn’t even a ladder to climb).  That approach worked when long term employment was still common.  Not today.  Work rotation programs give employees the opportunity to pivot roles, locations, teams they work on, or projects they are involved in at the company.  Every three years or so you are giving employees a fresh start, a new job with new challenges and skills they have to learn.  Think of it like a game–what makes games addictive?  The fact that we can “level-up,” get new items, solve new challenges, and conquer quests.  Give employees new quests and if you can do so more often than every 3 years.

Create your own incubators 

At Cisco, engineers are encouraged to go off on their own to join start-ups, oftentimes funded by Cisco.  If these start-ups end up going somewhere then Cisco buys them back.  Employees have that creative freedom and support from their organization to be leaders, to try things, to test the waters, and do what they are passionate about.  Many companies around the world such as AT&T, Dreamworks, and Linkedin have their own incubator programs where employees can come up with ideas and pitch them to get funding.

Build stronger educational alliances

Going forward, the successful organizations are the ones who will have strong educational alliances with institutions around the world.  In today’s world that means that you can have an office in San Francisco yet have educational alliances in Turkey, London, or Israel.  These educational alliances can be global thanks to virtual work (or you can bring employees from overseas).  Not only does this help make sure that your organization has a good talent pool but it also helps new graduates find jobs and educates them about new companies, products, and services

Deploy collaboration platforms

I’ve been a longtime advocate of collaboration platforms within organizations.  There is nothing more powerful than connecting your people and information together; two of your most powerful assets.  Not only will deploying collaboration platforms make it easier for your employees to get their jobs done but it will also create a way for your employees to share and transfer knowledge.  One of the big challenges for many organizations when employees leave is being able to keep their knowledge from walking out the door with them. Collaboration platforms help solve that problem which means that when people leave the knowledge and the information stays within your company and can be easily passed onto someone else.

Is your organization doing any of these things?  What else do you think your organization can be doing to combat the death of long term employment?

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