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From doom and gloom to new possibilities. Reframing the narrative around a changing workplace. An interview with Wavelength’s Speakershub Steve Cadigan

With his extensive experience and connections in Silicon Valley, Steve Cadigan, former VP of Talent at LinkedIn, is witnessing a huge paradigm shift in the workplace, as technology and changing employee demands turn traditional talent management practices on their head.

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“The press are stoking up fear around how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies are a threat,” says Steve, “Yet I’m not seeing a narrative around how developments in technology are creating a new wave of opportunity for leaders and employees alike.”

What constitutes a career?

The nature of what how we define a career is changing. McKinsey have reported that by the age of 40 many millennials will have had 11 different jobs. Staff are changing roles quicker than they have ever done before.

“Ten years ago if you stayed in a role for less than five years you were considered a job-hopper. These days if you have stayed in the same role for more than five years people ask why? Are you challenging yourself?” he explains. “Employees are now asking, ‘what are you going to do to engage me, to convince me to stay here?’”.

“The gig economy has given millennials unprecedented options to earn money. Any asset, physical or intellectual I own can now be monetised through models such as Airbnb, Uber, Hermes, Deliveroo, Etsy. Why would millennials work for you, when it’s increasingly easy for them to work for themselves?”

The battle for talent

This changing landscape means that the battle to recruit and retain talent has become harder than ever.

Constantly evolving technology and the ubiquity of social media means that leaders are having to become information brokers and not just decision makers, checking the pulse of the market they operate in and having the agility to act swiftly and ensure on-going employee engagement.

“It’s never purely about salary, there are so many more factors at play – it’s also about skills development, a workplace that is pleasant to be in, an easy commute. Staff know that the grass can be greener on the other side because increased access to information and changing models of work has opened their eyes to new possibilities,” explains Steve, “it’s important to ensure that what you are offering your employees remains relevant to them otherwise they will move.”

Steve believes that making your workplace culture your competitive advantage is becoming an important differentiator to how you do business and this applies not just to your current employees but your former staff too.

Your people are your brand

“You need to have an alumni strategy,” he says, “you want someone to be your friend, ally and member of your extended family even after they leave.”

Former employees need to remain advocates for your brand, in that way they help do the recruiting for you. “I still receive regular invitations to alumni breakfasts at LinkedIn,” he explains, “an organisation’s alumni network is going to be as important as a university alumni network to ensure that even when they are no longer on the payroll former staff are still on message.”

It’s a challenge that those organisations at the forefront of the gig economy are already grappling with. How do Deliveroo, Uber, and Airbnb manage the delivery of their brand values when they are reliant on freelance talent at the coalface?

“This challenge is only going to get bigger,” says Steve, “Take for example Ikea’s acquisition in the USA of TaskRabbit, employers now have to address the issue of maintaining a strong culture and positive brand experience when the individuals at the front end of the brand experience are not directly employed by the brand.”

“The companies who survive will be the ones who embrace the change that technology and AI has created, exploring the unprecedented new opportunities that are available rather than seeing them as a threat to traditional working practices.”


In Silicon Valley, Steve Cadigan is the go-to person for leaders seeking to optimise an organisation’s most important asset – it’s people. He has an unparalleled view of how technology and changing models of work impact business having previously served as VP Talent at LinkedIn from 2009 through 2012, taking the company from a private firm of 400 employees, through an IPO and into the powerhouse that it is recognised as today.


Steve is part of Wavelength’s SpeakersHub. To view his full biography & video and book him to speak at your own event please click here.

Steve is also often a regular contributor to our Connect programme. For more details on our 2018 programme and to download the brochure go to Connect 2018.

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