Not everyone wants to be part of the gig economy


My father worked for Bell Telephone Company for 42 years, retiring only after the company was split up in 1984. I mostly had full-time jobs over the course of my writing and editing career, until I was laid off 10 years ago. Since then I’ve been an official member of the “gig economy,” juggling clients and assignments while constantly looking for new opportunities. It has its good days and bad days, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss getting a regular paycheck. Honestly, though, other than that, I prefer the freelance life.

As enterprises increasingly rely on contract workers and machines to operate and achieve business goals, it’s tempting to think that soon we’ll all be part of the gig economy. But that overstates things. Plenty of people will continue to be employed full-time by organizations that value the continuity and collective institutional memory that a stable workforce can bring. Further, not everyone — not even every Millennial! — wants to freelance their way through their career. Many people highly value the security (illusory though it is) of a full-time job — maybe more than ever in the wake of the recession that devastated the economy in the late 2000s.

For those people, Business Insider recently compiled a list of “20 growing U.S. companies to work for if you want job security.” First, let’s make it clear that there is no such thing as genuine job security (and that’s not just the bitterness talking). That being said, the data Business Insider compiled from PayScale and Fortune indicates that employees of these companies tend to stick around awhile.

“Awhile” in this case is a relative term. The two companies with the longest median employee tenures are United Continental (12.6 years) and CenturyLink (10 years). Most of the others are in the four- to seven-year range; well short of my dad’s tenure at Bell, but enough time to develop skills and prepare for the next phase of your career.

Which leads back to the advice I constantly offer all enterprise workers, whether they’re on short-term contracts or on the payroll: Be in perpetual learning and skills-upgrading mode, and always be on the lookout for opportunities. The digital economy rewards the agile and forward-looking.

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