Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

From a permanent employee to a gun for hire

this-gun-for-hire-title-still I’ve written about the way that the workforce is changing and the ways organizations are changing many times. I have believed for a long time that organizations can no longer afford to have large structures of permanent employees, neither may they necessarily want such inflexible and rigid structures. On the other side, many new entrants into the workforce, both Gen Y, and the soon to be millenials (although I prefer a personal term: Generation i, for those born in the internet age) no longer seek, or even need, a one company, or even one sector or one career job.


Going to work, for everybody up and until Generation X, meant going to a physical office. The office can now be anywhere in the world, at least in theory, thus companies are no longer necessarily restricted to recruiting an “ok” candidate based on distance-to-the-office, when a great candidate may live in another city, or even another country. Of course, I’ve blogged about companies like Yahoo, who value the social and creative interactions that may take place in the physical workplace, but that’s for another blog!


However, one point that most intrigues me about the numerous possible Human Resources business models, the blended workforce of permanents and freelancers is this one: freelancers, guns for hire, can either market themselves out with the same skills and skill sets, or they can actively seek and develop themselves, always looking to offer something new. Freelancers need to think like entrepreneurs, like start-up businesses. Freelancers need to constantly think of themselves in terms of a competitive advantage: “To ensure that it is me and always me that a company wants to work with, what must I do different? What is my competitive advantage?” Some, but not all, permanent employees already think this way, some to avoid being laid off, and others to look for ways up the corporate ladder. These employees are the one who look for business and development opportunities, rather than wait for such opportunities to seek them out. If freelancers want to stay ahead, long term, they will need to constantly develop themselves, be ahead of the game, and be aware of what the market demands.


Another factor for both freelancers and companies is this. All too often a small group of employees get bogged down, bored, and lose their creative streaks. They just tick over, doing what they’ve always done, never doing enough to be fired, or enough to evolve. Could a freelance model make the workplace more competitive? An employee should be motivated to develop, to improve, to produce challenging work, if s/he is to continue finding interesting projects. An organization should in turn be interested in offering challenging and exciting workplaces to be able to attract the best talent, whether this talent is freelance or permanent.


In the (very near) future or for some companies the present, a blended workforce of permanent and freelance talent is going to be a balance that needs to be carefully managed. Who do we perceive to be core talent? Should these people be permanent employees tied to long term contracts in much the same way as top sports stars? Should companies have much more personal contracts for their core talent? And for those increasing number of freelancers, how should companies manage them? Which departments or jobs should companies freelance out? And for the freelancers themselves: how will they stay ahead of the competition? How will they develop themselves? How will they market themselves? How will they lead the challenge in the new blended workforce?



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August 16, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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