What Workers in the Future Will Want: Community and Creativity

Last Updated Dec 7, 2010 9:32 AM EST

The concept of career and what people demand from their jobs is constantly evolving. From working for basic subsistence to Don Drapers climbing the hierarchy, to the modern job hopper chasing work-life balance, employees' expectations and goals for their working lives have been shifting. But what will people's careers look like in the future? How will people's ideas of job satisfaction change?

Dr. Douglas LaBier, a business psychologist and director of the Center for Progressive Development, thinks he has an answer. Dr LaBier has developed a theory of people's shifting attitudes towards work, adapting the lingo of software iterations to the workforce. Looking at earlier ideas of career, he described "Career 1.0 - 3.0" recently in an article for the Huffington Post.

  • Career 1.0 -- Doing whatever kind of work enables you to survive. It's what people do when they're in situations that limit their opportunity and choices. That probably describes the situation for the masses of people throughout most of history. And of course it exists today, especially among those who have been hardest hit by the current recession. In these situations, your criterion for "success" is being able to earn enough of a living to survive -- pay your bills and support your family.
  • Career 2.0 -- Work within increasingly large, bureaucratic organizations that developed from about the late 1800s into the early 20th century. Those organizations required layers of management and administration -- white-collar jobs, within bureaucracies. Your career could advance along a defined path. The 2.0 career is what most people define as "careerism:" Pursuing more power, authority, money and position within an organization.
  • Career 3.0 --The 3.0 careerist struggles for more balance between work and personal life, and is less willing than the 2.0 careerist to stick with an unfulfilling job, or settle for one when job-hunting. The 3.0 careerists do not want their professional lives to be the enemy of their talents or interests outside work. They want less fragmentation and more integration among the different parts of their lives. More than just having a successful career, they want their careers to serve and support a successful personal life.
  • Career 4.0--The future worker, Labier says, will be "motivated by a sense of service to and connection with the larger human community through the product or service he or she contributes to." This latest type of careerist seeks "the opportunity for continuous new learning and creative growth, through which you use your talents and capacities for having a positive impact on human lives."
In an interview, LaBier explained that technological change was driving this new view of work. "Changes in the degree of global interconnection and interdependence, in consort with worldwide availability of information and technology, spur an evolution or expansion of how one wants to engage one's energies."

But will the recession put a damper on the emergence of this new attitude toward career? "The recession makes the emergence of 4.0 less visible in some respects, given the career impact it's having for many," LaBier says, "but I see this as an ongoing evolution that is continuing. Just as the emergence of a new business model towards sustainable practices is continuing, even as adjustments are made with changing conditions or new challenges."

And if you're a young person who recognizes yourself as a 4.0 careerist, what should you do with this knowledge? "What I say to people who identify with the 4.0 orientation is that he or she should look for organizations that best illustrate the kind of management culture and orientation that mesh with your orientation to career. Keep you eyes open for the right fit. You are part of the wave of the future, and, in fact, companies are increasingly looking for employees who embrace these perspectives and capacities -- collaboration; recognition for contributions, not titles; green practices; opportunities for growth and impact; diverse employees; transparency; ethics; social responsibility; informality, etc."

Do you recognize yourself in LaBier's Career 4.0?

(Image courtesy of Flickr user John Manyjohns, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.