Having a rewarding, fulfilling career is something we all aspire to, yet what that means on a personal level is different for everyone. Whether our goal is financial success, stability, challenge, creativity, or something else altogether, the end result is always the same – we want to do work that we enjoy.
Our world is changing at such a rapid pace, and that includes how we work and where we work. Although we aren’t confined to one job as our parents or grandparents may have experienced, today’s world of work means we must contend with more instability and uncertainty, but also enjoy more opportunities. What does this mean, and how does it impact us? We’ll explore it all in this month’s blog theme which will focus on our jobs and careers; how they transform, how to find fulfillment, making career changes, and how we can benefit from lifelong learning.
The ever-changing landscape
The long-term employer/employee ‘lifer’ relationship is rare nowadays. In the past few decades, employers have been moving away from offering full-time, permanent jobs with benefits and a raise every couple of years. Although there may not be as steady a paycheque, there are now more options for us to choose from, ranging from part-time, contract, work-from-home, or enjoying the ‘gig economy’, which is all about hiring independent workers for short-term tasks. With the new gig economy and the increase in remote jobs, there is less need for employers to do onboarding, training, or even staff meetings, and they save money on overhead with not having to pay for more office space, computers, or even chairs. So, what do the workers get in return beyond their pay? They can work from home, balance multiple jobs, pick their own hours, and hand-pick the type of work they most want to do.
This new way of working is definitely more entrepreneurial, innovative, and flexible, which is great for people who are drawn to that approach. However, it can be a bit unnerving for those who may crave more predictability, control or stability in their work lives.
The non-linear career path
Although some may bemoan the decline of the ‘steady job’, it also means we can carve out new opportunities and career paths. A recent study by Workopolis forecasts that in the next few years, the average Canadian will hold 15 different jobs throughout their work lives. Multiple career changes are the new norm, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
As some of you may know, I haven’t always been in this line of work. I studied and worked as a Mechanical Engineer for years, managing a myriad of different projects. I also moved around and enjoyed living in other countries for a while. It’s very liberating knowing that we can zig and zag here and there without really caring if we’ll get that gold retirement watch. It’s the journey, not the destination.
Today’s workplaces are also more and more diverse. There is greater gender equality, racial and cultural diversity, increased representation for people with disabilities as well as a wider range of ages in the workplace. As we live longer, we are also working past the standard retirement age of 65. All of this means that more and more employers are recognizing the value of diversity; all that accumulated experience, education and knowledge within their workforce can be tapped into to help the company succeed and compete in today’s global markets.
It’s a high-tech world
Technology has drastically changed our work, especially with the Internet, the ‘cloud’, wi-fi, and cell phones, not to mention other advancements, from bitcoin to drones to AI to microchipping. It’s true that some labour jobs will soon be replaced completely by robots or AI, but as always, new jobs will continue to be created. Did you ever imagine even 5 years ago that a “social media influencer” would be a well-paying job, or that we wouldn’t have a need for ‘file clerks’ anymore? Change is part of life. Although keeping up with these changes is a challenge even for tech-savvy people, the important part is to simply keep up. Doing so keeps us competitive as well as relevant.
When it comes to the ever-changing workplace landscape, we can choose to embrace it, or ignore it. By choosing to accept it, we forge a path to finding more fulfilment and job satisfaction. By ignoring it, we will likely get left behind.
“I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work and be proud that I tried everything.” – Jon Stewart