A New Look at Meaningful Work

21st-century workers want more flexibility in the way work is done and organizations must step up to meet demand.

Meaningful work means something different to every individual who works in an organization. Naturally, this will vary, depending on age, personal goals and more.

However, these days, it’s not just about finding meaning in the job-at-hand, but in finding a better way to work.

In reality, the workplace is evolving and shifting like never before.

Enter, the gig economy.

In essence, whether Millennial, Gen-Xer, Baby Boomer or executive retiree, today’s leaders and employees want more flexibility in the way they do their jobs.

The gig economy is essentially providing a 21st-century version of the old standard temp service, but with much more depth.

The main benefit to workers?

More work-life balance: Flexible “gigs” that bring in a good income while allowing for personal time away from work. When people feel they have time away, they can be more focused and engaged when they’re at work.

In fact, 74% of 1,000 full-time North American workers surveyed by Softchoice (an IT research firm which provides insights into the impact technology has on employees and customers), admitted that they’d prefer to work for a company that offers the flexibility of remote work options more often, even if their income remained the same.

The main benefit to companies?

Hiring more highly-skilled people who can fill in as needed, and hit the ground running, will give added depth to your organization.

For example, a McKinsey&Company study found that nearly 162 million people in the US and the EU-15 are engaging in contract work. Their INDEPENDENT WORK: CHOICE, NECESSITY, AND THE GIG ECONOMY report states that "Independent work could have benefits for the economy, cushioning unemployment, improving labour force participation, stimulating demand, and raising productivity. Consumers and organizations could benefit from the greater availability of services and improved matching that better fulfils their needs. Workers who choose to be independent value the autonomy and flexibility."

The reality is whether your organization is trying to attract Baby Boomers, Millennials or Gen-Xers, offering generation-specific flex-work is fast becoming a necessary step in the race to stay competitive.

What will meaningful work look like in the future?

Every generation wants encouragement to use and expand on their unique set of skills, be asked for their input, and be seen as more than a cog in company wheel. They want more control over their work time and energy, and they’ll get it. It’s only a matter of time, as most conservative estimates indicate that by 2025, nearly 50% of US and Canadian workers will be freelancers.

Not surprisingly, a 2016 survey conducted by Ernst & Young states that “1 in 2 organizations report a significant increase in the use of gig workers over the last five years. And that “more than a third (34%) of organizations engage contingent workers for 12 months or longer.”

Companies need to recognize that “giggers” or “job hackers” are not just people who are out of work. There are a plethora of highly-qualified, highly-skilled people who are simply moving away from the traditional workplace so they can run their own show. Many of them are interim, part-time or contract consultants and fractional executives who have a wealth of expertise and value to bring to organizations.

At the end of the day, managing the expectations of employees and contractors who want meaningful work will go a long way to attracting and retaining a diverse, engaged and happy workforce – one that truly embraces the gig economy.

Final word: Digital disruption is enabling people to work in a way that never previously existed. What’s even more exciting, is that disruptive technology is also playing a big part in how people find work. For companies and freelance executives, it’s easier and more cost-efficient than ever to find the perfect fit through purpose-built platforms such as Kahuso.


Michael Carter

Co-Founder and President of Kahuso Inc. A serial technology entrepreneur, Michael co-founded Kahuso in 2015, with a mission to change the way the world works.

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