There is a growing culture of professional disposability. Have you experienced it?
Often, professional disposability is a matter of perception. Is the glass-half-full or half-empty? Often, the perspective is dependent on whether you are employee or employer.
Professional disposability is both an intentional career model, as well as an unintentional organizational model. Or is it?
Perhaps the biggest catalyst of professional disposability was the economic cataclysm of 2008. That debacle pretty much tanked the post-industrial workforce model of being a company woman or man for life. Thousands of professionals became disposable over night, necessitating retooling and recalibrating career lifecycle plans. Not only that, the concept of professional value and career value also were impacted.
Then again, as many as 21% of Millennials job-hop prior to the first year of employment. Also, 50% of the millennial workforce does not plan to remain with their current employer past 12 months duration. Now, considering Millennials entered the job market during the 2008 financial meltdown, they started out with a career model (not a workforce model) based on professional disposability. As a result, Millennials target their next career move starting the first day of work with their previous, disposable, employer. How about you?
A culture of professional disposability presents an opportunity for re-imagining value creation, by both employer and employee.
Currently, the impact of full time workforce engagement on employee churn is sliced, and diced by iconic organizations like Deloitte and Gallup. Interestingly, only 30% of full time employees polled by Gallup report high levels of personal engagement in their organizations. That trend not only makes them subject to flight risk. Also, lack of engagement impacts level of loyalty, making loyalty negotiable, if not disposable.
Alternatively, enter the remote-worker, gig economy professionals like coders and writers, for example. Similarly, in manufacturing, engineering and architecture, the regular workforce is ramped up with temporary hires, involved in scaling up for a full production run or a monumental build project.
Either way, the career model becomes one of professional disposability. Each one of their gigs has an expiration date, by lifestyle design. Not only that; loyalty to employers is transient. However, these professionals target creating enough ROI and value during their gigs to earn repeat business.
Consider the percentage of gig professionals within an organization’s total human capital investment. What impact do these workers exert on executing an organization’s long-term human capital strategy? How do they define, create and measure value: for themselves, the organization and clients?
Does professional disposability redefine professional value?
Employment has two-way dynamics, as digital transformation deconstructs traditional organizational structure and human capital models.
For starters, ability to work across a multidisciplinary, heterogeneous and often dispersed organization, is becoming the norm. Then, the workforce is measured on their ability to collaborate with both human, as well as cognitive, coworkers within a dynamic and non-homogeneous departmental structure.
In addition, job titles become disposable. Rather, cross-functionality becomes more highly valued even as full-time workplace teams are constructed, deconstructed and re-assembled due to specific project requirements.
Consider your level of professional value investment with your current full-time employer or gig employment client base. Are these organizations essential, or alternatively disposable, when it comes to your own to professional development and career plans? When do they assess your worth? How do you grade and measure them?
Babette Ten Haken is a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker. She serves organizations as a strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs catalyze you to let go of what is holding you back, personally and professionally.
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