Do Your Workers Have a Job or a Career Mindset? How to Manage a Diverse Workforce


According to Federal Reserve Economic Data, the average American employee spends 1,700 hours working per year. With so much time being spent at work, it’s important for workers to feel fulfilled and satisfied with what they do. It’s easy to point the finger and place total responsibility on the employer or the HR department for ensuring high levels of employee satisfaction. However, employees, both full-time and contingent, can do a lot themselves to secure fulfilling and challenging opportunities throughout their working lives.

So how can workers do this? Knowing if they have a job or a career mindset will help them feel in charge of their work life and determine if their current role supports their personal and professional goals. Jobs and careers are inherently different. Jobs are more flexible in terms of the type of work and are often considered short-term in comparison to careers, which typically include a series of milestones and growth opportunities in the same field.

How will knowing the difference between the two serve as a catalyst for finding work success? It’s perfectly fine to be in a job or a career, or be in transition. Jobs and careers serve different purposes for people. But if a worker is in a job and should be in a career or vice versa, it may cause angst, confusion and feelings of disengagement at work.Identifying the right niche or position will help workers be more engaged, productive and ultimately more successful.

Distinguishing the divergence between a job and a career mindset will also help employers and HR professionals manage their workforce more effectively. Employers and HR professionals aren’t mind readers. But if they know that their workforces are comprised of both full-time and contingent workers with different mindsets and end goals, they can then create and tailor more effective programs.

Managing a diverse workforce is complicated, especially considering that the relationship an employer has with a full-time worker can be very different from that with a contingent worker. However, there are several benefits of engaging the entire workforce, including the contingent worker. Some of the benefits that companies reap when they consider and act on the needs of contingent workers include increased retention and productivity. And, companies also benefit from treating their contingent workers “with care” (and not as disposable), which helps them build a favorable reputation. Regardless if they are full-time or contingent workers, word will get around about how the company treats its employees. Having a positive employer brand will help ensure a better reputation important for recruiting full-time, part-time and contract workers.

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So how should employers and HR professionals manage a diverse workforce with varying goals and mindsets? The following three processes can help employers meet their needs:

  1. Understand and overcome the challenges dealing with contingent employees. Some may have a job mindset and are looking primarily to make money. Others who have a career mindset may be looking for a more permanent situation. Companies must learn how to work with and meet the needs of both attitudes/mindsets.In most organizations today, there is a mix of different types of work arrangements. These arrangements afford employers greater flexibility and cost savings and less risk. To make these complex workforces effective, employers need to design strategies for each type of worker they are employing and then drill down deeper to create individual guidelines for the performance of each worker based on job requirements and the goals of each employee.
  2. Match up workers with the right job. Companies should understand the goals and mindsets of their contingent and full-time staff early on.If possible, workers should be matched up with the right opportunities based on their goals. For instance, if someone is in one position but is interested in another role, employers should keep them in mind for future openings or projects. This action will show such employees that the company is trying to connect their interests with their work and will, essentially, help them feel more engaged with their current (and future) work.
  3. Continuously evaluate successes and failures. HR professionals and supervisors/managers should regularly perform informal check-ins with their teams to understand how they are feeling about their roles, discuss challenges and identify opportunities for improvement and/or advancement. By doing this on a regular basis, employers can not only mitigate or prevent employee problems but can also more accurately evaluate employee engagement and predict employee productivity and long-term retention.

To help facilitate the conversation around this for all workers, Spherion has developed a “Job or Career?” quiz at to help workers figure out if they have a job or a career mindset and what steps they should take to better improve their work life. This can be a good tool for those who are interested in understanding their work mindset and help guide them to find work happiness.

MORE: Increase the value of your people

Sandy Mazur

Sandy Mazur
Sandy Mazur is division president of license and franchise, Spherion Corp. She is responsible for the strategic leadership and support of an extensive base of Spherion franchise and license offices, as well as expansion into new U.S. markets.

Sandy Mazur

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2 Responses to “Do Your Workers Have a Job or a Career Mindset? How to Manage a Diverse Workforce”

  1. […] MORE: Workers’ mindset: Job or career?  […]

  2. […] According to Federal Reserve Economic Data, the average American employee spends 1,700 hours working per year. With so much time being spent at work, it’s important for workers to feel fulfilled and satisfied with what they do.  […]

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