Information About The Book!

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The Evolution Of The Employee

Posted by on September 16, 2014

This concept and the visual was taken from my new book which just came out called, The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization.

One of the things I have been writing about and have tried to make clear over the past few months is that work as we know it is dead and that the only way forward is to challenge convention around how we work, how we lead, and how we build our companies. Employees which were once thought of expendable cogs are the most valuable asset that any organization has. However, the employee from a decade ago isn’t the same as the employee who we are starting to see today. To help show that I wanted to share an image from my upcoming book which depicts how employees are evolving. It’s an easy way to see the past vs the future.


Based on the above evolution these are the key things to pay attention to…

Truly flexible work

The first two items above along with “focusing on outputs” comprise this idea of flexible work, that is working anytime, anywhere, and being evaluated not by how many hours you sit in a chair but by what you produce. There is no longer a need for most employees to work from an office or to work 9-5. Unilever is doing a great job of this where they are rolling out this concept of (what they call) “agile work” to their 175,000+ employees around the world. Aetna and American Express are among other organizations leading the way for flexible work. The future employee will only work in this way.

Use any device

We’re already starting to see this with BYOD but gone are the days of company sanctioned phones and computers. Instead, the future employee will be able to use any device they chose to get their jobs done. Companies like Ford, IBM, and Intel have been among those leading the way in allowing their employees to use many personally owned devices for work.

The death of the “ladder” and customized work

When you start working for a new company usually you start off at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole. In other words you begin as a sales coordinator, then a sales manager, senior sales manager, sales director, and so on and so forth. You have to climb the ladder for a few years in the hopes that one day you will reach a position that you are happy with. However with the freelancer economy, collaboration platforms, and new management approaches; employees are now starting to shape their own career paths and how they actually work. Companies like Deloitte offer something called the Mass Career Customization Program which allows employees to change their work preferences twice a year, changes include things such as making a lateral move within the company or selecting how much time an employee wants to spend traveling. Other organizations like Valve or Treehouse allow employees to completely pick the projects they work on or who they work with!

Sharing is caring

Employees use to hoard information and keep it to themselves. There was no incentive, scalable way, or reason for employees to share what they know with others. Knowledge is power and if employees keep their ideas to themselves then they have the power. Employees were also not encouraged to share or think creatively, their job was merely to show up to work and perform their tasks…that’s it! For the future employee the exact opposite is true. Collaboration platforms are making it easy for employees to share information and organizations are creating incentives to do this ranging from internal incubators to intrapreneuer programs to open innovation programs. Internally, email is also shifting from being the primary form of communication to being the secondary form of communication.

Going forward any employee can have an idea that can turn into a new product, service, or opportunity. Shell with their GameChanger program and Whirlpool with their “Winning Workplace” program are just two examples of organizations that are shifting their culture from hoarding to sharing.

Anyone can be a leader

As mentioned above employees were thought of as being expendable cogs which meant they had no voice within the organization. Once again, collaboration technologies play a crucial role as they give any employee within an organization the chance to be a recognized leader by sharing their ideas, thoughts, concepts, etc. Any employee that is able to build a following with the content they share internally is capable of being a leader; something which was not possible before especially not at the scale that collaboration platforms allow today. Think of how many people have become leaders as a result of social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, now employees can do the same inside of their companies.

Knowledge vs adaptive learning

Knowledge is now nothing more than a commodity. To be the world’s smartest person all you need to do is pull out your cell phone where you have access to anything you need to get answers to. This means that for the future employee it’s not knowledge that is the most important but the employee’s ability to learn new things an apply those learnings to new situations and scenarios that come up. In other words, always being able to learn how to learn and stay adaptable. This is far more important and valuable than what you “know.”

Everyone is a teacher and a student

In most organizations today if you want to learn something you have to sign up for and attend a class that may be a few days or a few weeks away. Today (again thanks to collaboration platforms) any employee can take out their cell phone and record a “how-to” for anything ranging from setting up a modem to programming something on excel. Simply being able to connect employees to each other provides a way for democratized learning and teaching in ways that were never before possible. Thanks to sites such as Udemy, Coursera, and Khan Academy we have the ability to learn what we want to learn and teach what we are uniquely qualified to offer to others.


  • Had a salary and benefits / Laid off, works for less