The ever changing workplace environment

The workplace has evolved throughout the ages, changing due to the economic climate, the markplace and the technology revolution. The needs of employers and employees have drastically changed. The relationship used to be that you would be rewarded for working for a single company for a decade or so with a pension, benefits and perks. The economy was at a surplus back then, so employers were able to commit to these promises, without breaking a sweat. The marketplace wasn’t as saturated, so company’s could rake in capital, without worrying as much about competition.

Technology, from back then till now, was a way to accomplish more with less, increasing the productivity of workers and allowing the business to communicate to the marketplace at the cheapest possible cost. From email blasts and traditional advertising, to the new web advancements with blogs, podcasts, wiki’s, and internal social networks, companies are now able to reach customers directly. They are even able to leverage their labor roster to talk to customers about the company, without paying them more.

Today, there is absolutely no job security, and your only protection is the strength of your network.

It is your insurance policy if you were to get laid off. Your job probably won’t even exist in a few years and if it does, it will be with someone in India or China. We have a global economy now and workers are expendable and spread throughout the world. It is your job to build your brand and harvest a strong network and your company’s job to help develop your career and sell products/services.

You are being charged with marketing for your company

I started a discussion a few weeks ago about the decentralization of marketing and the expectation that employees would be marketing for their company, using social media tools. This came into my head for a few reasons. First, I’ve always realized that we are all brand ambassadors for our company the second we accept our job offer. Whether we are current employees or alumni, we carry the corporate brand and people will judge our companies based on their experience with us. Second, almost everyone has at least a Facebook profile at this point, if not a Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and a blog. Companies are starting to understand that employees have social networks already accounted for.

With the economic downturn, we’re noticing that companies are being forced to do a lot more with fewer resources, such as materials and employees. Marketing budgets, as well as the employees that govern them are being eliminated at a rapid pace. Without people who are 100% focused on marketing, all employees will be charged with marketing their products, services and overall brand.

This is a major opportunity for your company for these two reasons:

  1. Due to the viral nature of social networks, your company will be able to reach thousands of people, without much effort and with no budget.
  2. Employers have more power in a buyers market, so they can force employees to work hard to create content that will help reach new customers.

In return you’ll be able to build your personal brand

In 2007, the Pew Internet & American Life Project announced a “Digital Footprint” study that had some very interesting data points.

  • 10% of internet users have a job that requires them to self-promote or market their name online.
  • 18% of working college graduates report that their employer expects some form of self-marketing online as part of their job.
  • 20% of employers have a special policy about how employees present themselves online.

I assume that the majority of people who are allowed to self-promote are in the sales department of the company, at least from what I’ve analyzed in this survey. In sales, you have no choice by to promote yourself in order to build rapport between you and the customer. Companies are going to be forced to give a little bit, after using employees as marketing devices.

I firmly believe that a self-promotion element will be apart of most job descriptions in the future because of a few reasons:

  1. Smart companies understand that their best asset is their employees and if they let them build their brand, they will be able to better leverage it for promotional causes in the future. Would you rather have an employee with 10 Facebook friends or 5,000? It’s a no-brainer.
  2. Smart companies have been offering career development paths, through college reimbursement and web-based classes. The next form of corporate sponsored career development for employees is a personal branding course.
  3. Companies are going to have no choice regarding an employees participation in social media. When the tides turn (i.e. economy becomes green instead of red), employees will force companies into a corner until they plead “mercy.” As a result, companies will back off and the employees will get to build their brand DURING work hours.

A mutual agreement where employees and corporations win

I can almost guarantee what you’ve read here to become a reality soon enough. There’s only a matter of time before social media breaks down the entire corporate structure and where executives realize the power of large “social lists,” that allow employees to market for the company for free.

The question for you is: would you sign this agreement?