The pandemic has affected more than just the “where” and “when” of our work days.
It’s changed our priorities.
We’ve all spent a lot of time thinking and talking about remote work – especially whether it’s desirable once its urgent necessity fades. It’s an important subject, but it’s only a small piece of a larger discussion.
Hardship can shine a strong light on the things that really matter and leave everything else in the shadows. It can be a clarifying experience that helps us reset and refocus.
What’s important to us in our work lives? And how do our current models and structures support those priorities?
If you found yourself struggling to find meaning in your work while the world seemed to fall to pieces around you – why? And what should you do about it?
If you found that working for a big name in your industry didn’t save your position when their bottom-line was under threat – how do you conceptualize job security now? And what are you looking for from your next employer?
We need to ask ourselves and each other these questions in order to get a broader perspective and make better decisions about the opportunities that lie ahead of us.
To get the conversation going, we surveyed professionals in financial services, engineering, operations, and IT who hold FTE (full-time employee) and contract positions.
The results were interesting.
Here, 3 insights into aspects of work worth valuing, and others not worth caring about:
#1 — Working on “Significant” Projects > Opportunities for Promotion
When asked how they’d rank the following aspects of work, in aggregate, respondents chose the following order:
1. WORKING ON INTERESTING, SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS THAT PUSH YOUR CAREER FORWARD
2. FLEXIBILITY: SCHEDULE AND LOCATION
3. A ROBUST BENEFITS PACKAGE: MEDICAL, 401K, PROFIT SHARING
4. OPPORTUNITIES FOR PROMOTION
5. GETTING PAID OVERTIME
6. WORKING FOR A NOTABLE COMPANY IN MY INDUSTRY – A BIG NAME
What does this order of priorities telegraph?
For one, 52% of respondents said that doing “interesting,” career-propelling work outweighs all the other options. That is a striking statistic, especially as compared to the second-runner up: “flexibility” was ranked 1st by 20% of respondents.
What does it mean to value “significant” work so highly? It very well could signal a shift to an employment model growing in popularity across all industries: project work.
Rather than let their careers take shape around the organization they happen to join, perhaps more professionals are going to take a more active or assertive role and carve out a career consisting of a series of meaningful challenges.
Thanks to its defined scope and – you guessed it – flexibility, project work may prove the most satisfying option for more people in the very near future.
IN FACT, WHEN ASKED IF OPEN TO CONTRACT POSITIONS, 68.8% OF RESPONDENTS ANSWERED “YES.”
One respondent elaborated:
“It helps you keep work / life priorities in check and avoid the false sense of security that comes with FTE. Further, I think it helps keep skills up and you’re able to have a lot more experiences with different companies, technologies.”
#2 — 1/3 of Survey Respondents Believe Job Security is a Myth
When asked about their take on job security looking ahead to 2021, this is how survey respondents answered:
44% – JOB SECURITY IS REAL, AND IT’S HIGH ON MY LIST OF PRIORITIES
33% – JOB SECURITY IS A MYTH. TALENT IS WHAT MOVES YOUR CAREER FORWARD.
21% – JOB SECURITY IS PRETTY RARE. IT’S A “NICE TO HAVE” NOT A “NEED TO HAVE.”
2% – OTHER
Taking a deeper dive, it seems that for just over half of respondents, job security takes a back seat to other priorities.
Perhaps 2020 exposed the fact that even the most secure-seeming jobs are not impervious to economic downturns.
#3 — 80% of Respondents Report a Neutral or Positive Outlook on 2021
The majority of our survey respondents were decidedly NOT pessimistic about what 2021 holds for them at work.
2020 could have sent our outlook plummeting. But it looks like many of us have resisted the temptation to expect the worst.
Hope springs from many sources. Perhaps our resilience – as well as our ability to takes things remote and virtual – has opened up new ways of looking at the economy and all the possibilities it holds.
HERE’S TO A YEAR AHEAD THAT’S BETTER THAN THE ONE NEARLY BEHIND US!
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