Musical Chairs on a Floating Job Market

Forget about the gold watch and state pension


Way back in the 90’s, when I started as a management trainee at Carlsberg, clearing the meeting room was a natural part of the “training”. In 2005, the boss had to do the milk-run, as the jaunty trainee claimed it definitely wasn’t part of his job description. And neither was artwork finishing, he added. We swaddled him in Monday Massages, Wednesday Pastry and Friday Drinks, but then came the Financial Crisis and tipped the power balance back in favour of the employer for a while .

Now the economy is back on track, but that doesn’t mean we get to rest on our laurels. Employers as well as employees have to get their ducks in line and keep it straight, cause going forward mediocrity equals failure on the job marked.

Permanent employment is dead, says futurologist, Louise Fredbo Nielsen in an interesting conversation (in Danish) about the future job market med Mathias Linnegaard, CEO and co-founder of Worksome, a newly launched portal for matching specialists with companies on project basis.

With increasing digitization and companies’ need to be agile, we can look forward to a more floating job market with project-based instead of permanent employments..

The companies will still want to hire the best on permanent contracts, but they will have a hard time keeping them, as especially younger talents seek freedom, variety, flexibility, development, influence, self realisation, and a higher purpose in everything they do. And many are willing to trade in job security and even salary to get it. In some ways, the future employee can be regarded as a customer, whom the company need to attract and engage – for example by creating innovative “playrooms” with a larger degree of freedom and focus on individual needs.

To keep up the steam, we will probably have to work in more and longer breaks to care for young children, elderly parents, and simply for breathing, playing and preparing for an increasing number of career shifts over a longer work life. Just imagine taking half a year off every five years, Free Fridays, or moving the company to Bali for a couple of months, like our freelance animator, Jonas. No problem with a good Skype connection…

Besides the perpetual attention to refining and acquiring new skills and competences, the futurologist advises employees to practice perserverance with a greater purpose in mind, as well as focus on knitting close communities. This not only to fend off loneliness in absence of  long term co-workers, but also as security against unemployment. It could be professional networks for mutual promotion, or participating in professional All Star teams, that are easier for the companies to integrate and get quickly up to speed.

It’s a safe bet, that most of us will have to work until we are 80, and according London School of Economics, the number of employments throughout a work life will double for every generation. Thank God, I’m not Gen Z, who has to zap their way though 32 employers.

For some the future looks bright and exciting, while others who value job security may find it a bit scary and worry about the mortgage.

There is no getting off the train, but what do you reckon will be the greatest challenges for employers and employees in the floating job market of the near future?​