Thank you to my friend Adam Weisblatt (@weisblatt) for contributing this post and sharing his truly unique perspective.
Megan the VP of Contractor Management in Operations went to see Ralph, an engineer who had been dodging her for a while.
“Ralph, we need to talk.” She had cornered him in the coffee room and he was busy trying to fuss with his tea in order to avoid direct eye contact.
“You are the last employee at the company and probably the last employee on earth. It’s 2025 already. We just don’t have the infrastructure for you to stay in this position. Why won’t you transition into a contractor status?”
Ralph absently responded “I just want the security.”
“Security?” Megan blurted. “Everyone knows that security was always a myth. What you think of as security, the company thinks of as a liability. Business has cycles. Do you realize how unwieldy it was to hire and then let go people all the time? As a contractor, you go where the work is. That is so much more secure than it ever was.”
“And benefits.” Ralph added.
Megan was getting frustrated. This was an out of date argument. “The only reason we offered benefits in the past is that we were the only ones big enough to get good deals and we used that to lure employees, but now with healthcare reform you can have more control over your healthcare and get better deals through the contractor guilds.”
“I just like the sense of belonging and camaraderie.” Ralph was getting wistful. “Don’t you want engaged workers?”
“Look,” said Megan who was getting exasperated. “a company is not a family. It is a system for creating value. You need to find your own value and engagement in your own work. You need your own network that expands beyond this organization. That is the only way you can grow.”
“But how will I learn?”
“You are responsible for your own learning! No one was ever able to learn for you. We will still invest in using vendors to create learning opportunities, especially around our proprietary processes, but you need to sign up for a Personal Learning Environment and find the kind of learning experiences that you want to have.”
Megan was pleading at this point. “Ralph, you may think you belong but you are actually very isolated. Reach out to other engineers like yourself. Join a community. Believe me you are more valuable to us as an independent agent. And, you will find that you are more valuable to yourself that way as well.”
You may think you belong, but you’re actually very isolated. Reach out to others like yourself. Join a community. You’ll be more valuable to us, and yourself.
Words to remember. Thanks Adam and Ajay.
Thank you Tricia. You’re right, Adam’s words ring true.
What a great story. Even though this isn’t where I’m at and I know a lot of people who are not here, I think in the end there is more value to both parties in working like this. More and more we’ll see people moving in this direction and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I like change and thrive in it, curious and excited to see what the future holds.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you, the future of the workforce and workplace will change in the coming years. I am currently working on a book addressing this issue called Workforce Revolution.
I am excited about it as well, but I am moving towards the end of my career. I am not sure how those early in their careers feel about it…the uncertainty, risks, time to think like an independent contract and not as an employee.