Back around Labor Day 2020, I helped DeVry University with a survey about workplace sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when employees should be feeling recognized and celebrated, nearly one in four employed Americans said they believed that American workers are not valued. And, more than a third of survey respondents claimed that based on their employer’s actions since the start of the pandemic, they feel disposable.
Were these feelings valid? Could employers actually take or leave employees, not caring if they were successful or unsuccessful, contributing or not contributing, employed with the company or leaving to go somewhere else?
The workforce is changing in major ways. The pandemic sped up a movement from strict scheduling to flexible “work on your own time” engagements. Prior to COVID-19, we were already seeing smart machines and automation as part of daily work, and the tremendous growth of the gig economy.
Taken together, these trends show that the old ways of sustaining a career no longer work. In past decades, you could go to college or a trade school, get a degree, and use the skills associated with that degree to work for one – or maybe a few – organizations over the course of your working life.
That is no longer the case. Jobs – and the skills required for those jobs – are changing rapidly.
In these times, nothing is certain except change, and this is unnerving. In fact, Ceridian’s 2021 Pulse of Talent report, which surveyed more than 5,000 people across five regions, found that 66% of individuals are taking job security into account more now than before the pandemic.
To avoid feeling – and indeed being – disposable, today’s employees need to be the leaders of their own careers. They must build what we call career durability.
Career durability involves acquiring the skills, mindset, and knowledge to be an engaged and productive member of the workforce – continuously. On LinkedIn, I explained career durability as including these five areas:
People can move the career durability needle in each of these areas with these strategies.
We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone next year or in the next decade. However, career durability will ensure that we can maintain control over the ability to earn a living and can stay employed on our terms.