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Are you ready for the Hybrid Career Phenomena?

By Sharon Lewis

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, up to 375 million workers, globally, may need to switch occupational categories by 2030. This is mainly due to the impact of automation which is simultaneously eliminating legacy jobs and creating new jobs, all the while shifting talent requirements for the next generation of workers.

In a sparks & honey research report, specific to Gen Z, it was found that 60% of today’s teens anticipate having multiple careers by the time they are age 30. This is a huge paradigm shift from the linear career paths of older generations which comes with a new set of rules for employers and employees.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman believes that careers are now simply “tours of duty,” prompting progressive company leaders to design their organizations differently, assuming people will only stay a few years. Company leaders need to be ready for the rise of the hybrid career phenomenon.

But as careers become less vertical and ladder-like, how will one define traditional benchmarks and practices like job promotions? And how will all this change relate to the overall identity that one derives from their professional role?

Managing these types of disruptions presents a new set of management challenges and opportunities for the next generation of business leaders and has huge implications for every function across organizations and their output. For example:

  1. Leaders of the future will need to have more comfort and confidence operating within a more fluid environment where data is openly shared, and processes are in place to support decentralized decisions-making.One thousand plus organizations already use the Holacracy principles, practiced at on-line retailer Zappos. The practice empowers individuals to make decisions and drive change. The work is defined around roles, instead of people, allowing people to play many different roles.
  2. New on-boarding processes will need to be implemented. These will allow individuals to not only access the information they need to do their job, but to understand the workplace culture so that they can readily achieve trust and value to those they work with. In Deloitte’s 2018 Human Capital Trends Report, only 45% of the HR and business leaders’ respondents were said to provide contractors/freelancer/gig workers with training, and only 54% offer formal onboarding. Taking a best practice from the early days of outsourcing: Treat your outsourcing resources as partners, not vendors. My own personal experience mirrors these findings. Employers may want to consider offering pre-assignment training to this audience so that the individual truly starts day one with the organizational background that they need to contribute and to fit into the culture immediately.
  3. A fluid career path will further disrupt access to what is currently referred to as institutional knowledge. Every time an individual works with an organization they develop an understanding of and a history with the organization. The longer the relationship, the more detailed and relevant, the history is likely to be.Workers have and will continue to come and go from one job. However, as these work stints become that much shorter and more output-focused, companies will have to rethink how such knowledge is shared within their eco-system.Asking the individual to keep a journal of their learnings during the assignment can be helpful, especially if there is a conscious effort for management and staff members to share this learnings on a regular basis. Reinforcing what is working, while being open to piloting alternative suggestions, can keep the institutional knowledge current and relevant.

The “hybrid career” will bring a new workforce generation into place. Building upon the thought leadership of experts in diversity and inclusion programs, we have the potential to see the most diverse groups of individuals coming from every possible industry and seniority, working together as teams, in ways not seen by previous generations. This will present occasions for all parties to see things through the lens of someone with a different background; In turn, creating space for enhanced individual outputs.

In my recent apprenticeship experience as a sparks & honey Cultural Strategist, where the aim of the program was to re-skill workers like me with 30 or more years of experience, I got a sneak peek into what a truly collaborative, intergenerational workplace could look like, and how valuable a “third act career” can be for workers and organizations alike.

AUTHOR BIO: Sharon Lewis is a veteran marketing strategist who has worked with brands including Citibank, Saks Fifth Avenue, American Express, Scotiabank and AARP over the course of her career. She thrives on the research discovery process to uncover the needs of the target market and to create go-to market strategies that deliver marketplace relevancy and bottom-line revenues. Most recently, Sharon participated in an apprenticeship program at cultural consultancy, sparks & honey, where she worked on a Future of Work 2030 project. Follow her @sharonlewisnyc