The face of the American workplace is changing, and it is changing quickly. In the past, the penultimate capstone of a career often involved a retirement party in which a cake boasting "30 years at the company" was prominently featured.
Today, perceptions of success in the sphere of employment are no longer chained to a statistic reporting the number of years invested as an employee of a single organization. In fact, an increasingly common trajectory in work history is one that begins as an employee and later moves fluidly to entrepreneurship and back again as conditions warrant.
In fact according to the State of Independence in America Report, Gen X in particular sees the professional value of independence and foresees that independence will soon be a business requirement. More than any other generation, mid-career independents recognize that careers are becoming project portfolios rather than corporate resumes.
How can today's workforce harness the power of workplace fluidity to bolster their wallets and their job satisfaction? The answer may be simpler that you imagine: go with the flow.
Karen Auld, an independent consultant now working with Greystone Consolidated, is very familiar with the benefits that workplace fluidity can have on a career, a pocketbook, and overall life satisfaction. In fact, her story is the perfect example of common phases though which today's workforce may traverse over the course of a career.
Traditional employment phase
For more than a decade, Auld worked for a major, Fortune 500 healthcare company. When market conditions led this company to downsize, the department in which she served was eliminated, and her job disappeared.
Fortunately, Auld "saw the writing on the wall," and was prepared for the layoff she knew was coming. Though her position was eliminated, the job she performed, which involved environmental health and safety compliance, was still integral to the effective functioning of the company.
Independent consultant phase
After working briefly for that same company through a temporary agency, Auld realized that she could make significantly more money by working for the company as an independent consultant hired directly. Because she had worked for the company for quite some time, she knew their individual systems and their expectations, bringing value that few other independent contractors could offer. The healthcare giant quickly hired her to perform the same function she had been completing as an employee, but this time as an independent consultant.
After eight years of working as a solo contractor, Auld began to branch out. She had concerns that her work might be "pigeon holed" into a restrictively small arena. To combat this very real possibility, she took steps to align herself with other independent consultants who worked in a similar field. By working through a group of consultants, she not only received the benefit of access to a wider array of work project options, but she also was able to connect with like-minded colleagues and reduce what had been a growing sense of isolation.
What are the takeaways from Auld's story and countless others' whose workplace fluidly has led to career success?
For traditionally employed workers considering a move to independence:
For independent consultants seeking expanded opportunities
Workplace fluidity represents the new face of a successful career trajectory. Whether you are currently traditionally employed or are already working as an independent consultant, your ability to "go with the flow" can make the difference between a satisfying career and one that is stagnant and restrictive.
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