I remember when I was in high school, my parents stressed to me the importance of getting good grades, a good degree in college, so I could land a great job that would be my lifetime employer. After all, my father had been with the same employer since he was 25 and my mother had also been with the same employer for 15 years at that point. A few years after that conversation, the economy took a downturn and “employers of a lifetime” seemed like a distant memory for those entering the workforce. Sadly, it began to be a distant memory for those IN the workforce, as well.
As the years went on, full time employment became rarer and it wasn’t uncommon for people to be in and out of employers within a couple years. Employers started to focus more on utilizing temporary workers, freelancers, and contract workers for their business needs. And with this meant that the normal relationship, fidelity, and loyalty between employer and employee had weakened or completely vanished.
But with this unsteady, ever-changing workforce, do the benefits of “long term” employment have to end? Do employees have to go without benefits, training, and skill building? Do employers have to deal with talent that might not be the best fit yet because of lack of ramp up time? I don’t think so. I think that each party needs to take that extra step to bring back some of the qualities that the “good ol’ days” had and make it work in this situation.
As an employer, you need to take the time to make sure your “temporary” workers feel welcomed, appreciated, and have a place within your organization. Nothing is worse than working for a company temporarily and feeling like the outcast or feeling like your presence really makes no difference. Take the time to train them a bit and learn what skills the worker already has to offer, and try to utilize them. This can not only benefit your company but it can help you get more accomplished and can make the temporary employee feel like they have a purpose rather than just be involved in mind-numbing process.
As an employee, take the time to build relationships with those in your organization. Learn about the industry, network, try to understand processes better. Take any chance you can to build knowledge and skills and put them into practice. Don’t be shy and wait for someone else to show you- take initiative! If you’re working for a staffing agency, find out what kind of benefits and training they offer. Many organizations now offer medical benefits and workshops to help their contractors feel taken care of and keep their skills up to date so they’re a stronger candidate in the future.
Maybe things have changed, but it doesn’t have to feel like a revolving door with nothing to show. We all can take our part to make the best of this new world of work. It’s time to start thinking it as a way to build opportunity.
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