Why the ‘job for life’ concept is irrelevant now

Youngsters today are happy changing jobs frequently, exploring multiple opportunities and then attempting to work on their own.

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A friend of mine bagged a job as soon as she passed out of college. It has hardly been a year since she graduated, but her CV already looks quite interesting. She has worked with four different companies within a year of starting her professional career!

Such frequent job changes were unheard of 50 years back. That was an era when people used to complete their education before actually “settling into” a job for good. Yes, for good, because once they joined they usually stayed put till they retired.

But the trend is altogether different now. Today’s youngsters will not just settle for any job nor will they settle into a job for good. They wish to work in different companies and sectors for a reasonable period of time before starting a business of their own.

It is not just the Millennials who are busy exploring and experimenting with jobs. Many from Gen X are also quitting regular jobs to start something of their own.

Sharad Sharma

“Because of fitment issues, bureaucracy at work and an attitude that goads them to keep changing their career paths and exploring new things, people do not want to spend their whole life working”

So what really happened in the last five decades?

Earlier, the career cycle was very simple. People first educated themselves, then obtained a job, and worked till they retired. Now things have changed. After completing their education people first wish to explore different opportunities, work in various companies, and then be self-employed or be part of the gig economy for a while.

“Because of fitment issues, bureaucracy at work and an attitude that goads them to keep changing their career paths and exploring new things, people do not want to spend their whole life working,” says Sharad Sharma, CHRO, DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance.

Why has this change come about?

For one, there was no service industry earlier, and people mostly worked in the manufacturing sector. With the growth and boom of the services sector, people were presented with a lot of options. There are so many other opportunities available now that people are spoilt for choice.

The financial stability of people has really increased. They now have higher salaries and are in a better position to save more. Investment opportunities have gone up too.

“The youngsters of today have the opportunity to change their career and even industry, and experiment with different roles. Earlier, such opportunities were not few and far between,” shares Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, chief people officer, South Indian Bank.

If we look at the career span of Gen X, we will find that if not for life they have worked for a company for at least five to 10 years, which is quite rare in the modern world. Is there a difference in characteristics between the Millennials and Gen X in terms of tolerance?

Chandrasekhar Mukharjee

“The youngsters of today have the opportunity to change their career and even industry, and experiment with different roles. Earlier, such opportunities were not few and far between”

“I think Gen X had a considerably high tolerance level. But today’s generation is quite restless. They want everything on their own terms. They are not familiar with working in a regimented environment. That is why, we see so many youngsters conforming to the start-up culture,”mentions Sharma.

Mukherjee adds, “It is not about the characteristics but more about the availability of opportunities. The Millennials want growth, and hence, they move on. In fact, I think they are smarter and more confident.”

With the emergence of new-age businesses and companies, the gig economy is seeing rapid growth in India. More and more people now have a chance to be self-employed. To be very honest, nobody wants to work all their lives for the growth of some other organisation. People are realising that it is more beneficial to put in the same amount of effort in their own growth, instead of working under someone else.

To retain these people, organisations have to change their policies. They need to create a career path for such people and show them how they can grow.

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