Are You Renting or Owning Employment?

job for rentAs many of you know, I am wrapping up work on my 4th book in collaboration with several other folks. During this process, I have had the great pleasure of interviewing practitioners in the professional development space from all industries from all over the world as we prepare for the new year, and the new decade. In one recent interview, the term “renting vs. owning” came up.  Are your employees renting a position or owning it?

This has been an employer’s market recently after all. When the tide shifts again, will employees think of their place of work as a “rent/lease” model or an ownership model? The distinction is quite clear. When one rents or leases anything, there is an is short-lived initial excitement followed by a care-free approach leaning towards the search for the next gig. When one owns something, the emotional context is quite different. There is more of a commitment, skin in the game, and creativity/innovation on a daily basis – after all, you “own” it.

What if an employee felt a sense of ownership towards their organization? And I am not speaking of just owning Stock or Stock Options. I am talking about the kind of genuine care towards overall well-being that creates that implicit but powerful loyalty similar to owning a home or car versus renting them. The “rent vs. own” metaphor is a powerful one for managers and leaders to consider as we begin the transition out of the recession and revisit employee engagement, productivity, and performance.

Another interview cited a recent retirement celebration of a senior executive who had been with the company thirty years, and she confessed that these are the last days of celebrating such milestones. There is growing anticipation in the workforce planning world that the average tenure of an employee is, and increasingly will be, 3-5 years … essentially a “renting/leasing” model.

Acknowledging this change in employment terms, what are employers to do? Do the rewards (long vesting schedules, matching 401Ks, etc.) change? How can an ownership model be created in a renting world? I will argue that individual and organizational EQ is one of the more profound and unexplored areas of the workforce and may provide/unleash some innovative ways to create that ownership emotion. After all, renting and ownership are emotional states of being and interaction rather that legal ones. What model do you want? What model do you have?

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One response to “Are You Renting or Owning Employment?

  1. Pingback: HRM Today - Blog Archive » Are You Renting or Owning Employment?

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