I recently sat down with the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, author, philanthropist, and partner at Greylock venture capital firm, Reid Hoffman, to discuss how organizations can apply the principles of his book, “The Alliance,” to a more flexible, changing workforce.
In his book, Reid talks about how the employer/employee relationship is broken. Managers used to attract talent by offering the promise of lifetime employment in exchange for loyalty, breeding distrust about the foundation of the relationship. But the workplace is changing. Instead of building a relationship on a false promise, companies should be adaptable and think about how their workers can thrive in a role during the time they are there. More importantly, they must set them up for success in their career.
Reid talked about the “tours of duty” from “The Alliance” -- transformative, rotational, and foundational -- and how they can be applied to a new working population where 43% are now engaged in a non-employee way (i.e., freelancer, gig worker, IC, consultant, etc.).
The workforce is changing
Companies today, said Reid, need to engage entrepreneurial people. Leaders must invest in their talent as a lifetime relationship. That doesn’t mean that a worker will be working for that company forever. Instead, the promise is that the relationship will be there, and both parties will invest in that.
To prove this out, Reid talked about former LinkedIn CTO Kevin Scott. When he interviewed prospective talent, one of his questions was, “What’s the next job you want after LinkedIn?” He wasn’t saying that person may not work at the company forever. He was saying let’s be open about all the possibilities and make sure that person is ready and capable for their next role -- wherever it may be.
The same goes for today’s talent, regardless of how they are engaged. I pointed out that there are currently 100 million freelancers (and growing) in the world today. The concepts of “The Alliance” should relate to all workers. But as the workforce shifts to one that’s more distributed and remote, how do you build a deep loyalty that aligns the work they are doing right with the future?
Reid agreed, adding that “all of the smartest CHROs and Chief People Officers'' are already embracing the extended workforce when thinking about how they get work done. As long as they can keep all workers connected to the mission and demonstrate they are a part of all essential work that’s happening, Reid said, the organization -- and its people -- will be successful.
Reid explained that it comes down to a company’s willingness to help their workers and not treat them like disposable commodities. People are wondering (and this has been amplified by the pandemic), “How does this work impact my career? What does my career look like?”
If companies can take this on board and explain how they can help a person get to where they want to go -- be it here or somewhere else -- the more successful networks they build.
To do this, leaders must be explicit with their workforce, asking questions like, “What is it you might want to do, and how can you help us and yourself along the way?” This means leaders must fulfill their mission with honor by putting the worker at the center of the equation. When they do this, it’s better for workers and the enterprise, inspires loyalty, and is mutually beneficial.
Reid believes the same set of principles applies regardless of employment relationship. The extended workforce, said Reid, is the “essential muscle of companies” in how they grow and innovate now and in the future. For companies to help someone with their career path, it comes down to how talented and committed they are. Will they go the extra mile? Do they understand the work they are doing now will help them in their career no matter where it is?
Your network is vital
Once these lifetime relationships are established based on mutual trust and respect, this becomes your network. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working together at the moment or not. That network will offer intelligence, value, engagement, opportunities, and help you navigate your future career.
Talent-centric future of work
The session wrapped up thinking about the future of work. This not only applies to how people work but where they work as well. The concept of remote, flexible work is here to stay, as is the globalization of workers. “There will be a broader workforce that continues beyond just employees. Maybe more than half your workforce.” Reid said. “That is key in how you look at this. There’s going to need to be some innovation.”
As this happens, companies will need to reassess their benefits, health insurance, career-pathing and development, business services, and other areas to determine what this population of worker’s safety net looks like.
As we wrapped up, I talked about how Utmost is continuing to innovate in this area. We believe there’s around 85 services that can be provided to workers directly that we will curate down the road as it relates to health, wealth and general admin. For Utmost, the goal is to provide a worker-centric platform that enables all parties to achieve success.
You can watch the full session below, or click the link here.