Across the globe, organizations are having a devil of a time managing a shifting corporate culture that’s increasingly reliant upon gig economy workers. As enterprise telecom organizations scurry to adapt, where does the highly skilled freelance worker stand amidst all the noise? With their in-demand skills in a growing industry, do they call the shots? Or are the hiring managers who work for telecom giants managing to hang on to the upper hand they’ve previously enjoyed?
If there’s any quick answer here, it’s that freelance telecom workers — field engineers, for example — should feel encouraged by the new economy. Here’s why.
Temporary workers — freelancers, contract workers, and part-timers — have been around for as long as their full-time counterparts. The difference now is that they’ve grown in number and in importance. Here are three reasons why:
1. Job Security: There has been a shift in the supply of jobs, from low-skill jobs to high-tech skilled jobs: in the U.S., manufacturing jobs have all but gone away but tons of other jobs remain unfilled because of lack of skills.
2. Job Loyalty: Millennials are over half the workforce and spend on average only 16 months at any job. This is due to the “loyalty challenge” they feel.
3. Technology: Digital technology is everywhere now. Social media is a force that can’t be ignored. Due to digital disruption and the rapid rate of change, companies must reposition themselves constantly. They must now be agile. Sometimes, this comes in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or digital platforms that automate tasks previously handled manually.
As a result of all that change toward a gig economy, employer-employee relationships have changed dramatically. Contingent workers make up 30 to 40 percent of the workplace, depending on what source you use. But many companies lack the resources to handle contract workers. The result is a bumpy road for these workers as companies struggle to find new ways to attract talent, make good decisions about hiring, properly onboard new hires, and finally, to manage them.
It can make any worker, even a highly skilled, sought-after field engineer, feel like they’re adrift in the new economy. Some struggle to understand how to navigate the marketplace. They struggle to understand their place in established company cultures. They struggle to understand their worth, but they shouldn’t. Understanding the flipside of the coin can help freelance telecom workers understand what they’re up against… and why it’s all going to change very soon.
Startups, who specialize in breaking new ground, are adept at creating exactly the kind of workforce they need, from scratch. Very often, that’s a small core of full-time, local workers plus an often larger contingent of agile talent. Their teams grow organically, bonded and strengthened by visionary leaders, a well-defined company culture, and an agile mentality right from the get-go.
Established companies, on the other hand, have lots of baggage to carry with them on the road to becoming agile and staying competitive. Regarding attitudes about the workforce, they’re dealing with a legacy culture that may have been created decades ago and which is most certainly based upon a culture of full-time workers who stay longer than 16 months.
As they take those first steps toward becoming agile, toward building a skilled workforce that can expand or contract as needed, clashes are bound to happen.
● IT Job Insecurity: Long-ago established departments get absorbed into other areas of the organization (IT staff, for example, nowadays can be found scattered across departments, integrated with marketing, sales, or other formerly siloed areas).
● Emphasis on Teamwork: The rise of digital workplace platforms has altered the way employees communicate and collaborate. Soft skills are prized now more than ever. Team players are valued. Problem-solving occurs in groups. Technology enables offsite workers to participate in daily routines. Many old-school workers have trouble adjusting to the new paradigm.
● Frontline Job Insecurity: Customer-facing jobs have changed, too, as automation plays an increasingly important role.
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