The death of employer/employee paradigm in the digital age

Written by : Tim Vasko | Published on August 03, 2016
Category: Finance Jobs Employment TechnEnomics TM Technology

With the proliferation of connectivity, the measure of “an hourly wage” has become irrelevant. If a business can’t afford the national average for a particular task, the employer can simply go online, and find an equivalent skill set in a less developed economy with lower hourly wages. Not only has the world gotten more competitive – it has become more flat as to the wage scale. This is why “hourly and salary” no long make any sense. In the next years, I predict the minimum wage will evaporate, and benefits will be provided in new ways to those who earn them.

Employment, like business, is facing ‘disruption’. Just look at Uber. Electronic access to employment base is a new reality, a global experience, that is shaping the linked, global, economy. Every individual, business owner and government needs to embrace the possibility, instead of fear the future – because, the future is here, and it has only begun to emerge.

Not only will employment continue to go to the most efficient, cost effective, productive place, and people, regardless of geography. But, as with the beginning of the industrial age, when machines were feared, today we fear further automation, through the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Like the industrial revolution, however, these fears have been overstated. Human’s are not yet obsolete. Humanoid employment won’t diminish. We don’t have to “fear the (mechanized) reaper,” or the wages in other countries. We have to embrace what else a productive thinking sentient human being, no matter of country, race, culture, language, gender or wage scale, can do. People can no longer go to work and park all or a portion of their brain – or park their butt, in an office chair. Nor, can they say they are “working from home” and not do productive work. It’s become to easy to identify what productivity is, and when something’s not getting done.

Humans are getting better, more productive, with technology advances.

Sure, there is more competition as a result. It is compelling us to become more creative at problem solving, and use more of our brains. In short, it is taking out the “slack” of inefficiency, and compelling everyone, every business, every government go get smarter, better, and do more things that are of more benefit to, well, everyone.

Need to grab a ride easier than the outdated taxi system allowed? Great! Uber it!

Need a less expensive place to sleep than a $400 a night hotel room in San Francisco? Hop on AirBnB and snag that spare room.

Need a transfer from Canadian Dollars to Indian Rupees immediately, to pay someone overseas? Fantastic, use TransferWise or the recently acquired XOOM (bought by PayPal), instead of the age old banking wire system!

All of the examples above demonstrate how the internet age has brought better service, at a better price point. It’s the same with wages and employment. The trick is the platform – how employers engage on the platform. How employees make their time more valuable and productive. And how “sharing” the wealth is formed and divided. These will form the new basis of “job security” – on a global scale.

From the most basic work, to the most complex, what technology is telling us as employers and employees is, get smarter, better, more productive and faster. Those who embrace this dictate will drive the next generation of stream-lined business. Those who don’t, will falter and eventually fail.

This goes for employees, business leaders, entrepreneurs and entire countries. Get smarter! It’s time to change your systems. It’s time to adapt, to become more in line with today’s reality. Adopt a Global Integrated Platform (G.I.P.) mentality that enables engagement on many levels, and establishes a new “sovereignty” of nation and state, one that can be integrated into a truly global economy. The protectionist mentality of the old system will fall. Ditch the old way of thinking, find new ways of productive creation, for both the employer and employee – supporting the effectiveness of the business and then nation, is the way to evolve on the global landscape. And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Every business, no matter how large or small, can incorporate the balance between making a living and living life.

It’s happening already, it’s simply not well organized in our companies or personal lives yet. There is still that tension between work is work, and “time off” is all about me. These are leftovers from the industrial revolution. The “employer - employee mentality” won’t give up easy.

But, the innovators of platforms, when you go to Google, or Apple, or Twitter, the “office” is more like a “welcome home” than a set of cubicles with miserable environments. And there are successful companies that don’t even have “offices” any more – completely virtual enterprises that blend cultures all over the world, where gatherings are by web conference.

These companies are seeking to blend what “life” is – since the better part of our lives is spent working, it should be an experience we love and enjoy, rather than a grind we dread every day. And “flexibility” is a responsibility all need to embrace – from the business to the employee, to the Governments and bankers who deal with both.

Every one, every business owner, every person who works for a company, is “on the front lines” in some way today. Employer-Employee relationships built for production lines, manufacturing and the industrial age, are giving way to a new era of intelligent, and committed engagement. More than ever before the competitive landscape is bigger and more effective.

This is all happening because of the platform we currently call the Cloud.

Today, employers who embrace and provide platforms on the Cloud for work, and even snappy, fun, environments “when and if” employees show up to the office, will succeed more and more. The idea, however, of the flexibility to work from anywhere, to an employee who works for a company that has a platform that allows this sort of work, means, too, that that same platform can be open for business and employment anywhere in the world.

Mom always said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Sorry, mom, but thanks to the internet, yes I can. Want to work from home or from a hotel room at any time, day or night? If your employer has a system to allow you to do that, you love that flexibility. What’s the trade off ? We’ll that means you now have about 4 Billlion other possible candidates for your job from every wage scale, and a giant talent pool to compete with! So, you better be effective, smart, and really WORK to make your work the best you can, for your employer – or guess what? Someone else will.

The idea of being an employee, then, is to engage 100% in the future of your primary employers platform. When the going gets tough for the business, which it always does, you don’t just skip ship, you stick it out and become better, make that business better. That is how to earn “job security”. Become smarter, more valuable, supportive and committed. Then, not only will the employee earn and learn more – the business they work with will thrive and consider them irreplaceable.

The next organizations we form, will not require “work hours” or even “pay by the hour” – but “pay by the engagement” and “work accomplishment.” The Employment office is rapidly being replaced by digital platforms like UpWork and Fiverr. Economics, at various levels, in the cycle, will be based on outcomes.

What does this mean in real dollar terms? A $50 an hour job, is a $96,000 income. If that job, at the basic level can be done for $24,000 somewhere else on the planet, then what innovative, special talent and effort, creative work, does the employee bring to the employer to make that worth a factor of 5? So the $96,000 wage, actually is a value of $120,000 when the work is done during the year.

Are you faster? Did you find a new way to do something, produce something, that can be replicated and delivered to more customers or clients? Did your experience become such that you can do the job in 25% of the time it would take someone else? Are you helping expand the outcomes of the work you do (deliver it better, to more people, for more revenue to the business), or are you just doing the job and leaving it to the business to figure out what to do with your work?

And employers, are you always looking for a way to improve the access to your work force, your customers and clients, your products and services, through your platforms? If you aren’t, you’ll pay more in wages, deliver less to your team and customers, than your competitors. Think Blockbuster vs. Netflix. Who has more “employees” today? What made that possible?

The platform! Instead of employer/employee, it’s time to think about platformer/platformee.

New business models will look a lot more like video game platforms “Worlds” where resources and players operate on different levels, with different rights, tools and permissions. The most skilled players (platformees) will become critical and rise to be the top players of the game. The most successful games (platformers) will have designed a World that will attract devoted platformees.

Revenue, will be split in creative new ways too – based on productivity, performance and delivered between the platformer and platformees at the various levels. Accounting, as we know it will change (see my prior blog post “The End of Accounting”), and, so too, must the Government concerns, programs and operations of agencies that were part of the Industrial Revolution, that “protect workers rights”.

There is no “think tank” that can solve the climate change issues in the world, it has been recognized from climate to human equality, there needs to be global effort, cooperation across borders, and platforms that work together. This is as true for employees, employers and governments who value their economic engines of business, as it is for the air we breathe.

Global trends show us that the Platform is more important than anything else in any business. Competition, no longer, is defined by geography. It is defined by how easily one can reach beyond geography to access resources, be it human resources, raw materials or finished good, globally.

This is just the beginning. When we look at the H.I.T. (Human Intelligence Tasks) today that the Millennial have to compete for, from far and wide, to find an “acceptable wage” - the next generation will have to compete with AI (Artificial Intelligence) workers that achieve things, without health care benefits, without “time off” and for a fixed cost, do as much work as the processor speeds allow – which are increasing exponentially.

We need to recognize that our employment systems, our ideas of what employment even is, has been stripped away, and is falling further and further behind. The Global Platform is already here. And, that Platform, composed of exponential intelligence and opportunity, will become more and more available. The world we live in will be more and more automated, available, and recreated, or created, over and over again, by technological advances.

“Platformers” who are today’s employers, will maximize resources, and build their business operations better – it is what must happen for a Platformer to stay relevant and in business. Platformees, then, must adopt a new level of thinking and engagement, to be relevant, important, and to rise to the upper levels in the age of the Platform.

Our systems, understanding of what is “employment” and what it is to be an “employer” must change too. It’s no longer the “owner – employers” world. And there is no longer room for the “hourly wage – employee rights” systems that were critical during the industrial age. It is the engagement, access and platform generation that will shift all of these outdated mind-sets and systems that have supported them for the last few hundred years.

Tim Vasko

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