in partnership with.png

Written by Kieran Delamont, Associate Editor, London Inc.


Enter the new-collar worker

They’re a self-starting new pool of talent from non-conventional backgrounds just ready for the plucking. Is your company ready for them?

A CONSISTENT THEME when talking about education and work in recent years is the declining emphasis being placed on a university or college degree. There’s a rising class of workers who either don’t have a degree or whose degree is largely unrelated ― people landing skilled jobs based on their skills (often self-taught), not the letters after their name. Enter the “new-collar” worker.


The term first emerged in 2016, coined by the former CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty, who found that the company was struggling to hire for cybersecurity positions because of outdated white-collar-blue-collar thinking that was limiting its search to those with degrees. Now, with more interest in new and emerging sectors of the economy, the notion of the new-collar worker is gaining traction ― and employers will have to get on board.


“They have no choice,” said Josh Millet, CEO of Criteria, speaking to DigiDay’s Worklife. “In the next decade, it’s going to be a race to hire people. Even people who still believe in college degrees are like, ‘Hmm, I can’t fill my roles.’”


Some see this as a necessary correction to credential inflation. Post Great Recession, research found that the number of job postings requiring a bachelor’s degree spiked. “Scores of jobs remain inaccessible to people who have the skills and aptitude to succeed at them, but not a college diploma,” wrote Rometty, along with Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groyberg. “Millions of people are locked out of promising job opportunities because too many companies default to hiring workers with four-year degrees.”


The new-collar worker isn’t just about not having a degree; it’s also an evolution in the types of jobs coming down the pipe. Importantly for employers, tapping into a new-collar workforce requires an appetite for training and re-training. Implicit in the new-collar concept is the notion that employers will need to be flexible both in who they hire as well as how they approach training. In a sense, they need to be willing to take people with broad skill sets and help them specialize (a role that post-secondary education traditionally plays).


But if they can do so, a world of new candidates might open up to them. As Don Gannon-Jones of Karat puts it: “If you can find people with the right skills, who cares about the degree?” 


Ask not what can be done with a humanities degree

Why liberal arts degrees are more valuable than you might think

IF, LIKE ME, you have a humanities degree, all this talk of degrees not mattering is old hat stuff ― people have been telling English majors, philosophy grads and history students that our degrees won’t get us jobs for years now.


Yes, the last decade or so has seen the popularity of those degrees decline, mostly in favour of STEM studies. But that doesn’t ― or at least shouldn’t ― mean that humanities degrees aren’t without value. Indeed, in the same sense that employers are reconsidering those who don’t have degrees, some leaders in the business world want employers to also reconsider the value of a humanities degree.


“It is worth thinking through some of the larger consequences of the STEM-ing of higher education,” wrote U of T professor Ira Wells in the Globe and Mail recently. “If current trends hold, the Canadian workforce will be increasingly ignorant of history, philosophy and literature. We will be less capable of learning from the past…less able to communicate without the assistance of machines, which will also do our thinking for us.”


But most experts would also agree that the humanities degree needs some reform ― or at least needs a better story to tell about itself and its usefulness in the work world. This is happening in some quarters. In 2019, two Emory University deans received a $1.25-million grant from the Mellon Foundation in support of their “Humanities Pathways” program, which injected more career-preparedness content into the traditional humanities curriculum.


Those looking ahead at the economy of the future ― chaotic and unpredictable as it is ― tend to still see the value in humanities degrees and point to studies that show that humanities majors often end up taking high-paying leadership jobs. There is, they argue, a kind of timeless value to humanities degrees, even (or maybe especially) when the market is undervaluing it.


“A funny thing about the market mentality…is that it knows only what’s judged to have future value right now,” wrote Nathan Heller in the New Yorker. “The value of the educated human touch is likely to hold in a storm of technological and cultural change.” 

Terry Talks: How engaged are your employees?

According to a recent Gallup report, employee engagement is stagnant, with only about one-third of workers saying the are engaged with their work. And that’s a big concern. Understanding the importance of employee engagement and how it can shape a business is crucial to an organization’s ability to thrive. For engaged employees who are happy and committed to their work, it’s more than just a paycheque ― it is the dedication towards their employers and role that makes them passionate about their work, which is often reflected in business success.



The different kind of business trip

Can company culture be improved with psychedelics? A growing movement of leaders are claiming their companies are better off for it

YOU’VE PROBABLY NOTICED by now that psychedelics are going mainstream. They’ve even got their own stores now, sketchy (and still illegal) though they may be. There are retreats, clinics, vacation packages and workshops all aimed at achieving wellness through tripping. And, inevitably, they’re seeping into the corporate world, too.


The idea of bosses taking their teams on psychedelic retreats is gaining purchase these days. “I felt like it would make us better leaders by helping us become the best versions of ourselves,” one CEO of a digital agency told Fortune, speaking of his plan to take his work colleagues on an ayahuasca retreat. Some retreats are starting to cater to it, too. Brandon Evans is the CEO of 1heart, an entrepreneur-focused ayahuasca retreat, and said that their experience is “set up to think about how leaders can continue to create in this world.”


That’s all well and good for the bosses. But for many employees, you can imagine that the prospect of doing psychedelic drugs with your boss is, to put it mildly, a bit more of a leap. And yet, there’s a lot of growth in this industry. The Economist recently reported that “a growing number of firms want to offer psychedelics to staff, either for the sake of mental health or to organize a mind-bending corporate retreat.”


Some retreats, they report, “are also experimenting with such drugs to make executives more empathetic, enhance team bonding, boost creativity or change company culture.” Researchers from the University of Maryland are even running something they call the Connected Leadership Study to understand how psychedelic experiences can change the way company leaders operate.


Anecdotally at least, there might be some benefits if your boss starts exploring psychedelics. Psychedelic culture magazine Double Blind interviewed Henrik Zillmer, CEO of flight compensation firm AirHelp, who said that his ayahuasca experiences transformed how he operated his company. “It made me focus more on the people than the numbers in the excel sheets,” Zillmer said. He doubled his HR team and overhauled their benefits. “Investing in employees and helping them build career plans became a big priority; I trace that back to the retreat.” 


Super sick Monday

One of the year’s biggest sick days is coming up, and that has many employers scrambling for a game plan

BESIDES MAYBE CHRISTMAS, this week’s Super Bowl Sunday is about the closest thing we North Americans have to a shared holiday (at least until those Americans start recognizing the Grey Cup).


Of course, no stat time off is offered for this hallowed day ― but that won’t stop millions of workers who, surprise, surprise, will be nowhere to be seen next Monday.


Call it absenteeism, call it the Super Bowl Flu ― whatever the reason, about 16.1 million American workers plan to be absent from work next Monday, according to the UKG Workforce, which tracks this every year. Plenty of Canadians will no doubt join them.


“Cases of the so-called Super Bowl Flu emerge annually across America,” UKG stated. They note that this year’s survey actually turned in a lower number than last year, when 19 million employees were expected to miss work (though when you factor in people who plan to miss at least part of their workday on Monday, the number climbs to 22.5 million ― 14 per cent of the U.S. workforce).


Every year, these numbers cause someone to ask: should the day after the Super Bowl just be declared a national holiday? (Perhaps the better question might be, should the Super Bowl just be scheduled on an existing long weekend?)


Of course, we’re in a hybrid work world now, which may explain the slight drop in estimated absences since people can just work from home and snack on leftovers all day long. But even that is not without its own headaches, especially for IT teams. “Life in IT is always busy, but Big Game Monday will be next level,” says Gil Pekelman, founder of Atera. “We’re expecting a huge spike in IT issues.”


The best advice? Be honest. If you’re going to take Monday off, just tell your manager. After all, the survey reports that managers themselves are just as likely, if not more, to catch a dose of Super Bowl Flu, too. 


LinkedIn Share This Email

Follow Us

Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter