Independent workers are on the rise. They represent a changing time: a changing mindset. A large portion of this movement is driven by the Millennials; a generation often criticised for “selfishness” and given full blame for the emergence of the “Why? What’s in it for me?” mentality. As a Millennial, I’m conscious of the sense of entitlement attitude “everyone gets a trophy”, cultivated by our upbringings. Whilst many are quick to attack these mindsets, what is rarely discussed is the power this mentality has to move the world towards ‘meaningful independence’.

What we’re witnessing in our corporate world is the renaissance of the human being. The workforce landscape once looked like an enslaving of human talent in factories and production lines; a place where we were commoditized and could be bought and sold at the mercy of big business. As manpower became replaceable by machinery, we turned to education and further learning. University became one of the most highly valued accolades for enhancing an individual’s employability. In today’s world however, employers are now placing more emphasis on individual’s experiences and track records from previous engagements to make hiring decisions.

The meaningful independence phenomenon is making for an exciting future of work. The passage to entering the workforce has changed significantly with high school students given the opportunity to sample different professions before even finishing school. The individual is being pushed to pursue passion and inherent talent over expectation and meeting demand; invited to question and experience first-hand as opposed to being directed and pigeon-holed by higher powers. As such, career change has become normal, particularly for the up and coming generations.

My journey reflects these underlying currents and I’m certainly not alone. What we now have is a breed of workers who know their value and subsequently, their bargaining power. These individuals often value experience and time over financial benefits, they seek variety and thrive off change in their day-to-day lives. The jack-of-all-trades are gone. Their place has quickly become overtaken by highly specialised individuals demanding attention for specific talents. They don’t want to be owned, they enjoy freedom and the feeling of being in-demand.

These waves of workers threaten the existence of out-dated workforce structures. People no longer need to be owned or controlled to be of value to an organisation, and certainly their actions resist the old hierarchies. What comes into play is a need for a meeting place where the needs of both company and worker can be met equally. Businesses who dedicate resources to accommodating flexibility and providing engagement opportunities, have higher chances of capturing and holding the attention of top talent than those who rely on traditional employment incentives. There is now a highly dynamic and fluid group of workers motivated to succeed and perform.

The power is going back to the people. Those who work for you are no longer dispensable, they are in their own right, customers of your HR structures and work culture. I’ve stressed before the need to understand how best to give talent a key to your organisation, but what must be addressed alongside, is making what lies within your organisation attractive enough for individuals to want to venture inside.

Chris Milligan is changing the way the world works and supporting the new workforce. He is the voice of the independent worker and helps organisations improve the way they engage people.

Twitter: @ContingentChris
Email: chris@adepto.co