Chris Milligan’s Brave New World of Work

    “When are you going to get a real job?” As a 20-year-old contractor, that was what I heard from my friends and family when the conversation shifted to work. Even though that 20-year-old was earning $150,000 a year moving from contract to contract, being paid on a day rate, I had no “job security”. What was this job security everybody spoke of, anyway?

    Everyone is on a contract, from the CEO to the receptionist, and it’s usually 4 weeks. The only difference between those employed full time and contractors or freelancers (now called gig workers), is that the gig workers know this reality, and are always keeping an eye out for what’s next. Fast forward to 2018, and I’ve still never had a permanent full-time job, I even contract to the company I founded, Adepto, and I am the CEO. However, today, the world has finally caught up with the new way of working, and it’s very much accepted. Depending on which consulting report you believe, the number of people working in “non-traditional” employment in any western economy is between 20-40%, and that’s not going to reduce.

    The world of work has already changed: people are working for longer, moving company more frequently and even moving industry or career at a more rapid pace. The era of working for one company for your entire career is gone and as new generations enter the workforce, they won’t be working the same way. Many are finding fulfilment outside of the typical career path – just look at the aspiring entrepreneurs filling every Wi-Fi enabled café in the hip parts of town. Deloitte’s Human Capitol Trends Report identified some interesting status on the future of work. Probably the most interesting for me was that 50% of millennials expect to have as many as 10-12 jobs by age 38, something unheard of by older generations, many of whom may have worked at only one company throughout their entire working life. (Report: Deloitte Human Capitol Trends 2017))

    Our consumer lives have also changed greatly in the last decade; everything is now available on demand and with a click of a button/app. We are now in control as the consumer; we don’t need to know the number for the local taxi company, we just hit our Uber app wherever we are; same is true when finding a place to stay (Airbnb), ordering a meal (Deliveroo) or getting, well, everything else (Amazon). These new apps are basically central marketplaces that connect us to what we need far quicker than ever before – and it has become expected.

    However, the way we find work hasn’t changed, if anything it has gotten worse due to technology.  We still must deal with job boards where a keyword search returns thousands of results. LinkedIn is basically just a CV that we’ve posted online, and the introduction of new screening tools and video interviewing has actually made the candidate experience worse, as they now need to jump through multiple hoops for each company they apply to, sometimes taking the same tests, sometimes using old tech, lengthy application processes, even before they know if they really want to work for that company. Time investment is solely on the worker’s side.  All the innovation in recruitment has been focused on the company and cost savings, not on the candidate experience. There is also a large disconnect between HR and Procurement (full time vs contingent, applicant tracking vs vendor management) where managers have to know who to go to for each type of talent, rather than just having one place to go.

    So, what does all this mean? The success of organisations in 2018 and beyond depends on the ability of their leadership to rethink how they engage with their “workforce”, putting the worker in the centre and enabling flexibility, not just accepting it. And of course, this all needs to happen in an on-demand way, for your managers needing certain skills to get work done, and the candidate who is ready for their next engagement. Most of the work being done is project based. Automation is taking away most of the business as usual activities. The ability to ramp up and down, to be an agile organisation, is critical, and putting people at the centre is necessary for success. Josh Bersin from Deloitte has done over 2 years of research with over 1,000 companies, developing his maturity model, and the results clearly show that to build the workforce of the future, personalization is critical. While in his data only 1/3 of companies are reaching that highest maturity levels, it’s becoming clear that the shift has begun, and that technology is a key to making the shift. (Report: Bersin: HRTechDisruptions2018-Report-100517.pdf)

    None of this is possible within silos, or by separating out types of workers. A workforce in this new world consists of all the talent around an organisation: the current employees, alumni, contractors, vendors and suppliers, all in one place. To make this a reality, organisation structures are changing and becoming flatter, morphing to meet market demands and changes at a moment’s notice.
    To enable this change, companies need to look at their very own marketplace approach. A marketplace that puts all the skills and talent available to their company in one place, allows workers to control their preferences and find work more easily across different companies, wherever they are needed. This way, companies create a dynamic pool of all their talent, where the data is always up to date and matching is done on the work they do and the skills they have, not just unstructured text in a word doc which leads to poor matching and time wasting, and quickly becomes inaccurate or out-of-date.

    By building these dynamic talent marketplaces, companies can immediately see what talent is available to them and when, and candidates are able to invest time in their profile once (e.g. taking skill assessment, personality test etc.) and then use that data to connect to multiple companies without having to repeat the effort of inputting all that info.  It also reduces time-to-fill on the company’s side: candidates become pre-vetted/pre-qualified and those doing the hiring can quickly create pools of talent to speed up the process, which ultimately saves an organisation money, means fewer people out of work, and creates a level of efficiency that few organisations have today.
    When I first started Adepto, I thought about creating a more traditional recruiting organisation. What became clear very quickly was that I could do something unique in the industry – use technology to enable every person to find a role and enable organisations to more quickly find the people they need for projects. Our challenge has been getting C-suite leaders to understand that putting people at the centre is critical for their success. By enabling people to join, engage and quickly find roles regardless of their status of employment, organisations who are embracing these changes quickly see costs decrease, fewer workers on-the-bench and, most importantly, a more diverse workforce who are more satisfied with their jobs.

    I predict that as shifts in how people want to work continue at pace, and they will continue, organisations that refuse to shift how they think about their HR departments and involve not only managers but workers in the process, are doomed to fail as future generations embrace new ways of working. I, for one, hope I am working the “gig” life for the rest of my career and I know I’m not alone.

    About Chris Milligan
    Chris Milligan is CEO of Adepto. He’s been passionate about helping people work the way they want and partnering with organisations to rethink what their workforce is since his time in university. Chris leads the team and brings his tireless energy to every facet of the organisation spending his time between Brisbane and London to innovate in driving the new world of work.
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