My barber is one smart cookie. Lately he's become interested in what's happening in the workplace in the so-called new economy. Years ago, when people joined a company, they worked for the company for life. Experience was valued. And the skill sets needed to do the job usually remained relatively unchanged for their entire career. Trust, loyalty, and a work ethic were the glue that held things together.
Now my tonsorial wizard has discovered that men and women entering the workforce today will likely work for more than 10 companies during their career, and in that time, the skill sets needed to do the job will change three times. And experience may lose its value.
My barber doesn't understand what's happening in this new economy. Moving his shop 10 times would have put him out of business. And if over the years he had to develop three different sets of skills to stay in business, he would have gone nutso. Might have forced him to become a bartender.
If my barber's statistics are correct, the men and women who read this newspaper will change jobs every three or four years. Does this suggest these procurement and business-management folks have become hired hands, sticking with an employer until their company gets downsized or acquired or spun off?
Or are they hanging in there until the assignments become boring, or a competitor dangles big bucks and an exciting new challenge? Are people are less loyal to their employers today than they were in the past? Or is it that employers are less loyal?
In the new economy, it's likely that you'll have to develop a new set of skills every five years or so. How do you avoid becoming obsolete at 43 and pushed aside by a younger man or woman? Today, many of the fast-track technology companies are expecting 70% or more of their new hires to come directly from college. The theory is that these young people, mostly single, will be willing to work longer hours than the older, married men and women. And it's claimed these recent college grads are easier to train than the older folk. There's another bonus: A recent graduate is considerably less expensive than a seasoned veteran. Yes, there was a time when experience was valued-but in this new economy, experience may have lost its luster. In some quarters, experience may equate with being inflexible. Does this mean older employees are more threatened than ever before, and trust their employers less?
So what's really happening in your world? Are the competitive forces driving the new economy affecting your work ethic, your loyalty to your company, or your sense of trust? Are you thinking of becoming a bartender? Please let me know how you feel.
-A column by longtime industry veteran Frank Burge (firstname.lastname@example.org) will appear in EBN every other week.