The face of the American workforce is changing. In 1997, Daniel Pink explored the developing trend of free agents– people who for whatever reason, “are abandoning one of the Industrial Revolution’s most enduring legacies–the “job”–and forging new ways to work”.
By 2008, according to one study, 26% of the American workforce described themselves as free agents. In 2011, 44% of the workforce in the U.S. indicated they were free agents. The Freelancers Union, however, puts the number of independent workers at 30% of the nation’s workforce.
The members of this burgeoning class of workers call themselves free agents, freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, contract employees, knowledge workers, micropreneurs. Rob Walling, author of The Micropreneur Manifesto, defines micropreneurs as “agile, inspired, independent knowledge seekers who can’t live with the 9-to-5 status quo”.
At the same time, we’ve seen rapid changes in the traditional workplace. Downsizing, layoffs, closures and reorganizations have displaced thousands of workers, to the tune of 9.1% unemployment nationwide. Long gone is the concept of job security and a retirement party with the gold watch and a pension. Healthcare benefits? The next few years will be challenging for employees and employers alike. Recent studies indicate that as much as 75% of the workforce are disengaged from their place of business.
A dynamic shift is occurring between the organization and the labor force. For skilled workers who are willing to eschew the traditional workplace, the market looks wide open.
- How to Create a Career in the New Economy (money.usnews.com)
- The Crisis of Meaning (charlesthrasher.wordpress.com)
- Breaking the Mold: New Work Environments for New Workforces (personalbrandingblog.com)