Diversity: Revisited

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Your workplace needs more diversity. No, we’re not talking about the diversity you’ve been striving towards for the past few decades. If you’re like most corporations, you’ve been working hard to provide a space where people from all ethnicities, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and ages feel welcome. But in the end, you treat them more or less alike: you offer them jobs.

Beyond the 40-Hour Work Week

If you’re competing for top talent over the next decade, you’re going to have to take diversity to the next level. In other words, you’ll have to diversify the work you offer and the way it gets done.

There will always be workers who prefer the security and predictability of a full-time job. Forcing people into the 40-hour box may not leverage your team’s full potential.

In the past, companies determined how work was performed. Smart companies are now structuring work around the people they have. Those who are lagging behind expect people to conform to a schedule that’s easiest to supervise.

flexible work schedules working from home

The Need for Flexibility

Cecile Alper-Leroux, in Human Resources Today, writes: “Organizations will want to redefine work to be more fluid and flexible to meet the requirements of more people including generalists, specialists, gig workers, retirees, remote, and virtual workers. This could mean introducing cyclical or intermittent work, which is not the same as seasonal work, or lifecycle-based assignments and compensation.”

Notice the phrasing: redefine work to be more flexible and meet the requirements of more people. This is a sea change in the way managers manage: letting the workers choose the way they want to work. A Workplace survey found that 51% of employees would change jobs to have a more flexible work schedule. And 35% would move to a new gig if it allowed them to work remotely. 

Autonomy is one of the key factors in engagement. Most large companies just can’t seem to make it work within their complex structures. Gene Marks, writing for Entrepreneur Magazine, says, “People who work at bigger firms are different kinds of people. I know these people. I meet them all the time. They are good people, and smart. They do good jobs, and they like their companies, mostly. But when I meet these people and compare them to the same employees who work at much smaller companies I notice a big thing that’s missing: control.”

The Gig Economy

The first generation of Gig Economy workers found their work through platforms like Uber, Lyft, Upwork, and Task Rabbit. For instance, the new generation of freelancers is this path to greater autonomy and flexibility. They want to be paid top dollar for interesting work. Above all, they want the freedom to move on to more interesting and lucrative projects when the current project is done.

Freelancers are disrupting the workforce by bringing elite skill sets and an entrepreneurial mindset to projects. A 2017 global study by Toptal found that 91% of organizations surveyed had employed freelancers and 79% planned to increase freelance participation.

The 21st-century workforce is becoming more diverse. If you’re only hiring employees full-time, consider redefining your open positions.