The rise of liquid work

A study made by ManpowerGroup on a sample of nine thousand new employees across twelve countries

The rise of liquid work

Farewell to permanent contracts, welcome to volatile, creative and flexible jobs. The new generation of workers is turning the very notion of employment upside down. They fulfil completely new tasks in a new, innovative way. This is the rise of “liquid” work, the time for freedom to take revenge on corporate ladder. Slot-in part-time jobs, term-based contracts, freelancing, co-working and smart working solutions, the choice of having different clients and the lack of a single employer are clear examples of this.

This is only a taste of what the world of work will be in the future. In the next few years, offices may disappear and even the 8-working-hour module may become unfit to fulfil human activities.

A study of new employees
How should we get ready for the change? The only means available are to stay one step ahead and study the evolution step by step. A useful exercise is to talk to those people who put this revolution into action every day. So, ManpowerGroup made an in-depth survey on the new generation of employees, selecting a sample of nine thousand employees across twelve different countries. These new generation professionals explained advantages and disadvantages of their, unprecedented, life style. A first significant figure is that 87% of them say they are willing to fulfil a newly-created task, a “NextGen Work” in English terms.

«The labour market changes rapidly – says Jonas Pricing, Chairman and CEO at ManPowerGroup – Populations grow old and skills change suddenly alongside technological progress and globalization. The gap between people’s skills and employers’ requests is growing, attracting workforce and populations worldwide. Organizations are forced to find talents through new channels and invest more in keeping their employees».

Opening to new skills
The new generation workers have a few strings to their bows: they hold an open and flexible mentality. According to the survey, more than 80% of the people interviewed are not afraid of learning or adapting to this new situation. This is because having an undefined working condition obviously urges them to keep updated. This is the only way to stay competitive on the market and nurture the so-called employability.

«People want change – carries on Pricing -. They work more, learn more and aim at a better balance between family life and work. Not everyone wants to be a full-time employee and several companies are now changing their approach. The working week has evolved in the last 15 years towards an alternative and flexible model».

Gender differences no longer exist
We are now facing the Uberisation of work but the novelty is that the revolution doesn’t seem to pertain to a single gender. It has to do with both women and men. Looking at the study, there are no significant differences between female and male employees: about a fifth of the professionals (male and female) appreciate the security of their life style, regarded as less stressful than that held by a full-time employee, and the possibility to spend more time at home.

ManPowerGroup also asked them to tell the reasons why they chose to become NextGen workers. These were the three most popular answers: the possibility to earn more (38%), to develop new skills (33%), and to manage their own time (32%). These needs are generally unfulfilled by the traditional working model, which is regarded as out of date, and the responsibility also lies with organizations and employers. «Companies have to understand in what ways people wish to be actively involved in the labour market and get in touch with them – concludes Pricing -. What counts is what professionals want. Flexibility, responsibility and job security do not exclude each other. Employers need to become builders of talents, not just consumers of work».

(Translated by Cecilia Braghin)


Diana Cavalcoli

Diana Cavalcoli Laureata in Lettere, si specializza in Cultura e storia del sistema editoriale all’Università degli studi di Milano. Frequenta il Master in giornalismo Walter Tobagi ed è iscritta all’Ordine dei Giornalisti dal 2015. Ha lavorato per Adnkronos a Milano e attualmente scrive per il Corriere della Sera occupandosi di lavoro, startup e innovazione

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