Petruchio: Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!
Katharina: The moon! the sun: it is not moonlight now.
Petruchio: I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
Katharina: I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
- The Taming of the Shrew
In Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio disagrees with everything that Katharina says, no matter how absurd. The disagreement made for great Shakespearian comedy in the 16th century but is also a perfect example of how two people can see the world very differently.
This has become a common problem in the workplace, and differing viewpoints on the nature of “work” have created a difficult debate regarding the new definition of the word. I hope to make this the topic of my next series of posts and will start with trying to accurately define “work” in 2019.
Not long ago, if you needed to work, you also needed an employer (if you didn’t have the resources to start your own business). And if you needed an employer, that meant that you were going to play by their rules. Adherence to a collection of policies regarding when to work, how to dress, and what to do was the trade off for a regular paycheck and other benefits. In an era without many other options, following the demands of your employer was a widely accepted system.
But technology doesn’t stop innovating, the world doesn’t stop changing. According to The World Bank report on “The Changing Nature of Work”;
“Technology is changing how people work and the terms under which they work. Instead of the once standard long-term contracts, digital technologies are giving rise to more short-term work, often via online work platforms. These so-called gigs make certain kinds of work more accessible on a more flexible basis.”
In other words, workers in 2019 now have options. My employer’s rules, policies, work schedule, and definition of success can now be replaced by my rules, policies, work schedule, and definition of success. In fact, 84 million people worldwide now choose to play by their own rules, according to the report.
To further highlight the disconnect that inspiring workers to make that choice, read this 2015 report that cites a “Global Career Aspiration Survey” in stating that only 10% of employees define “success” at work as “high performance”. The fact that 45% of employees define “work/life balance” as “success” only highlights an ongoing disconnect between employee aspirations and the performance demands of employers worldwide. As a point, how many managers expect high performance and use it as a primary evaluation tool but make work/life balance difficult?
So how do I define work in 2019? Here is my best guess…
“The time we spend that allows us to get the things we really care about”
The things you care about differ from others, but could include time, freedom, flexibility, money, or any number of other values. Employees now have an option that allows them to live their values, either in the “gig” economy or with an employer who has already recognized this shift and has created an acceptable work culture. Yet there are still entire industries of employers who refuse to change…demanding that “work” is done on their terms and by their rules. As the talent pool shrinks, this mindset will be tested in the struggle to attract and retain quality workers.
Finding what I really care about,