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Work 2.0
It's the revenge of the employees!

By: John Shepler

Remember the unwritten employment contract?  That's the one the one you thought you signed up for when your employer was courting you.  As many of us found out belatedly, the unwritten contract isn't worth the paper it isn't written on.  Now, Bill Jensen believes the tables are about to be turned.  This time employees, not employers, will be calling the shots.  He calls this new unwritten contract Work 2.0, as described in his book by the same name.

So, What's Unwritten Contract 2.0 Worth?
The skeptical might say it is worth the same paper it isn't written on.  OK, that may be how it winds up some day.  But let's allow Bill to make his case.  According to Jensen, this new de facto contract will get put into place because employers are going to find out they can't live without it in the economy that is beginning to emerge.

Business of the future is going to be more cut-throat than you can imagine.  The companies that prosper will need to engage every resource they can muster, including the hearts and minds of their workforces. If not, they will get stomped by the high mental and physical energy of their competitors.  Some companies are in that mode today.  If you are a small up-and-coming business looking to kill off the dinosaurs in your field, or a player in a high tech, high growth rate sector, you're may already be playing this game.

Work 2.0 acknowledges that people come to work for more than a bi-weekly check. They expect to be challenged to be the best they can be.  They also expect to be treated with respect and valued for the critical resources they are.  Only then will they become fully  engaged in the company's mission and go at is as hard as they would when trying to win a soccer game. 

Yeah that's right.  We all know that the dead come back to life at 5 PM and push each other out of the way to get home to what they REALLY want to do.  Can you imagine harnessing that energy during the work day?

Hey, That Doesn't Sound Like My Job!
It may not be right now.  The last couple of decades have been characterized by selfish executives doing whatever it takes to maximize their own income.  They may soon come to the end of the gravy train that they grabbed through merger mania and scorched earth personnel management. Once the stored wealth has been sucked out of the company by mercilessly chopping research & expense budgets and imposing a reign of terror on the employees who escaped the axe, there's little momentum left to create the ever increasing stream of earnings that Wall Street expects.  When they've run out of gas trying to get the reluctant to do the unreasonable, it's time to engage those employees or get out before the whole operation collapses under its own weakened infrastructure.  Your time, my friends, may soon be at hand.

Seize the Citadel or At Least The Day
When your chance comes, be ready.  As this lethargic economy picks up steam, your current employer or one that is trying to recruit you (remember recruiting?  It'll be back some day.) will lay on you the concept of full-tilt, heart and mind contribution.  Bite your lip really hard until the urge to give them a piece of your mind starts to fade.  Then dictate your terms.  That's right, YOUR terms.

You must demand, not meekly request, a better return on the investment you make for the company.  They must have you work on great and important projects that are both exciting and rewarding.  They must provide the resources that challenge you to work at peak productivity and not have you waste time with the care and feeding of unnecessary supervision.  Your connections with your peers must deliver personal freedom, growth and success.

If'll find somebody that WILL do these things. So, there!

Humble Pie in the Sky?
Don't go fantasizing that you'll be shooting at your boss's feet just to watch the fat man dance.  The corporate pyramid isn't likely to flip over on its top.  But, you can reasonably expect to demand what you need to operate at your peak.  It is not to your benefit or your future employer's to pay you a full salary and benefits package and get 50 to 80% output.  Would you settle for a car that was that sluggish?

My other caveat is that this utopia may not be coming to a company near you this week or next.  If your company is becalmed in a sea of anemic demand for its products and services, Gestapo management styles may still rule the day...for now.  If reading Work 2.0 lights up a fire of indignation and resolve within your weary soul, you may well have to break the chains that bind and starting interviewing potential employers that need the commitment you can offer right now. Or, if you can't find any that can measure up, consider unleashing that monster of productivity that is boiling within you in a start-up venture of your own.


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