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The creative class: Networked, high performing and disillusioned

Not surprisingly, employee morale and commitment has worsened during the recession — and in response to company actions to cope with the downturn. A recent survey finds that high-performing employees have been substantially more affected than the rank-and-file.

Lin Grensing-Pophal, Human Resource Executive Online, October 2009

… the creative class: a fast-growing, highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries—from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts. They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit.

Richard Florida, Washington Monthly, May 2002

Watson Wyatt and WorldatWork just released a survey that tracks, among other things, employee engagement, and Lin Grensing-Pophal explains how companies can do a better job of engagement in a recent article. But that may not be enough, going forward out of the recession. The survey’s results inspire a look back to an issue economist Richard Florida raised several years ago: how the drivers of employee performance are changing.

Today, the combination of networking tools, with a power burst from social technology, and a recession that now appears to be the result of an infrastructure crashing under its own incongruities — foreseen by folks like Florida — is forcing companies to look not just at compensation methods but at how they categorize employee positions from the get-go. It’s no longer the distinction between management and rank-and-file that makes sense in a service-dominated economy, if it ever did in a manufacturing dominated world, but the quality of performance along the scale of creativity and actual contribution. We’re in the midst of another major industrial shift that is exciting at the same time it is mind boggling. And its impact will be felt not just inside corporations but around the cities and towns they populate.

… the economy is different now. It no longer revolves around simply making and moving things. Instead, it depends on generating and transporting ideas. The places that thrive today are those with the highest velocity of ideas, the highest density of talented and creative people, the highest rate of metabolism.

Richard Florida, The Atlantic, March 2009

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