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The Next Employee-Employer Handshake


The Next Employee-Employer Handshake

The question is no longer, ‘what will the employer hire for?’ but instead, ‘what will the employee work for?’...

6 Minutes Read

The question is no longer, ‘what will the employer hire for?’ but instead, ‘what will the employee work for?’

The relationship between employee and employer is being overhauled. The trends catalyzing this disruption are:

  1. Automation and AI augment human work: the type of work humans do is changing… rapidly.
  2. The Man-Machine Team: not only are humans competing with machines for jobs, they’re learning to work with them
  3. Tech-enabled flexible working: from remote working - thanks to unprecedented connectivity and slick devices - to new worlds of collaboration made possible through AR/ VR.
  4. The rise of human understanding at work: workers are being acknowledged for what they really are: human. This has catalyzed a number of shifts at work:
    1. 4.1. The onus on personalised employee experience
    2. 4.2. The rising importance of organizational culture
    3. 4.3. The focus on employee health and wellbeing
    4. 4.4. Adherence to basic diversity standards

How are these trends affecting the employee-employer handshake? Firstly, what employees want and need deserves more attention than has been granted until now. Secondly, employers need a new way of matching work to workers that is employee-centric.

Understanding what an employee wants and needs – ‘What will the employee work for?’

In recent years we’ve seen the number one reason for turning up to work shift from salary, to personal and professional development opportunities. An employee asks of an employer: ‘This is my chosen career path. These are my professional goals. These are the milestones I want to hit in my personal life. How will you support me on that journey?’

The field of motivation is one filled with mines. It is the employee’s duty to understand what it is that they want out of work. It is the employer’s responsibility to offer an experience that can match this. Motivation is unique to the individual and needs to be understood as such.

With this in mind, a new system of ‘career coaching’ that is independent of employing organizations is on the horizon. Think of Black Mirror’s episode on social scores, where the protagonist visits a life coach who guides her towards her milestones to reach a higher social status. A similar system will track and support an individual throughout their career, through multiple organisations. We nodded toward a potential system based out of academic institutions, with our ‘Uni4Life Coordinator’ in 21 More Jobs of the Future.

‘What will the employer hire for?’

Let’s look briefly at how the attributes considered when hiring candidates have changed. For a long time, under consideration have been: education, hard skills, experience (especially tenure at organisations).

Then, it became more personal.

  • Firstly, personality or ‘social fit’. This was based mostly on gut instinct from the first 10 seconds of a face to face interview or perhaps even the ‘hobbies and special skills’ section of a CV.
  • Secondly, in the digital age almost all recruiters will now consider a professional’s digital twin – the digital personal brand: across social media, online publications, blogs, etc.
  • The final key personal aspect up for consideration today is diversity. Organisations will take into account and hire based on the diversity profile of an individual – usually to the advantage of underrepresented groups.

Tomorrow, we will see organisations focus on finding new ways to understand both the soft and hard skills of an individual.

  • It’s already starting with peer-reviews, as seen on the likes of LinkedIn. But soon these will be data-driven, quantifiable skillsets. (Read more in my recent whitepaper on Talent Intelligence.)
  • Understanding personality traits will go one step further as match-making will not be limited to dating apps. With data-driven personality profiles (fueled by soft skill data as well as rigorous data-driven, holistic personality testing) organizations will turn to match-making tools to build effective teams. Not just groups of people who ‘get on’ but groups of people who spark creative abrasion too.
  • Past education will be obsolete. Current ability to upskill and reskill will be far more important. Is an individual committed to self-improvement? Are they training on a regular basis? Are they engaged with their Uni4Life Coordinator?

Match-making: Tinder for Jobs

The center of gravity for matching work to workers will no longer reside in the organization. It will be within the individual worker, who takes full responsibility for taking on tasks that align to his/her goals and motivations.

Instead of an individual’s worth being defined by a job description, they will use their data-driven individual profile to navigate work opportunities. This encompasses skills, learning capability, goals and motivations and is forward-looking by nature because it is focused on growth and development.


  1. Organisations divide the work that needs to be done into buckets, and assigns these buckets to a job title.
  2. Job descriptions are created for each job title and are static.
  3. Candidates match their profile to job descriptions, accepting that a certain portion of the work won’t be enjoyable.
  4. When organisations need different work doing, they create new jobs and employ new workers.

The problem with step 4 of this cycle is that we can no longer just hire new workers in to fill gaps, the skills and capabilities don’t exist in groups as we are previously used to.


  1. Individuals will keep an up-to-date profile of their skills and motivations
  2. They will continuously look towards their next goal and match task-based work accordingly
  3. The will continuously look towards their next goal and match an organization’s learning offering accordingly
  4. They could work across multiple organisations simultaneously to achieve their next goal
  5. They will continue to learn, upskilling and reskilling, and updating their profile – skills, motivations and goals – accordingly.

Would you swipe right for the new employee-employer handshake?

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