How about a couple of facts to shake you up? In a scant 11 years from now 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. To date only 7% of them have worked for a Fortune 500 company. They have had a tough time getting work and that experience has prepared them to be entrepreneurs and you may have a hard time making them employees.
Finding a job is an entrepreneurial endeavor
Futurist, speaker, editor and fascinating writer, Thomas Frey says “As most Millennials have come to realize, finding a job is an entrepreneurial activity. You’re selling your skills to the highest bidder, or most often, just anyone willing to pay for them. If you can’t find a full time job, a part time one will do for now. Even project work will be fine.” He says they have become savvy at getting work, piece meal, part-time or project work and because of their networking ability they are very good at it. He tells us that “Within the next 10 years, the average person who turns 30 will have worked between 200-300 different projects.” And he says “Their willingness to “do what it takes,” coupled with an innate ability to shift gears quickly, is positioning them for an adventure-based lifestyle with far greater freedom and an ability to select meaningful work, two things that mesh very well with Gen Y thinking.”
I have operated in the mindset of what Tom Peters called “You, Inc.” for 20 years. He, and others, such as Dan Pink (in To Sell is Human pages 29-30), have predicted this change was coming for some time. But Frey says there are a number of factors that are contributing to this move, some of them dealing with Millennials themselves and some with the way work is changing. I can’t list them all but here are a few that I consider key.
- Millennials will be the most educated generation to date.
- They don’t want to work for traditional companies with the usual restrictions, e.g., 56% will not work for a company that bans the use of social media.
- Being an entrepreneur is a mindset and profit is not the overarching goal.
- Companies are no longer a place and the tools to work remotely have improved considerably.
- Companies have an obligation to keep the number of employees as low as possible.
- As a freelancer you have the ability to control your own destiny.
The adjustment needed
I am in agreement with Frey and others that this change is coming and we need to adjust to it. Businesses will have to change their models, though with the number of employers willing to use 1099s that may not be such a big adjustment. But still there are a number of jobs that employers will have to give up some control on in order for them to use freelance labor. The nature of relationship will have to change with negotiations resulting in win-win relationships.
The bigger change that is going to have to occur however is in how the government defines the “employment” relationship. In a freelance world what matters is results. In today’s system what matters is “time” put into a job. Under the FLSA the USDOL is not concerned about the quality of work or the quantity of work, they are concerned only about the time spent doing the work. That will have to change. The IRS wants to get their tax money from companies as opposed to workers, thus employers deduct pay half of the taxes insuring the government gets some money. That system will have to change as well in order for a freelancer system to work. Additionally the mindset of unions will also have to change. Freelancers don’t need the protection of a group.
Certainly there are problems associated with being a freelancer. Under the current health insurance model we have it is difficult to get health coverage. The government is enforcing a model, the ACA, that is supposed to help with that, though I think an even better system should be developed that has the insurance companies recognizing the freelancer marketplace and developing a product suited to meet those needs.
Frey sees the future consisting of business colonies doing business with freelance labor. He says “Business colonies are an organic process of matching labor to projects for the exact duration of the contract. No more, no less. Overhead costs, compliance and accounting issues are all minimized to improve the overall efficiency of the operation…. the coming era of skill shortages will put talented people in the driver’s seat with many commanding increasingly high rates for their unique abilities.”
He sums it up by saying people in the future will not recognize the model of business we operate under today. I say he is right and the change begins NOW.
Read Thomas Frey’s fascinating article The Great Freelancer Movement: 8 Reasons Why your Next Job will be a Project.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net