The Future of Work is Not Jobs According to Rudy Karsan

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Future of Work is Not Jobs According to Rudy Karsan

Future of Work

What do you get when you ask the founder of one of the world's most significant HR Firms about the future of work? A completely unintuitive answer that speaks to the revolution in the world of work and a passionate case for an idea whose time has come.

Rudy Karsan, co-founder and former CEO of the former human resource software company Kenexa which was sold to IBM in 2012, held a TEDx talk last year in Calgary where he advocated a universal basic income as a means of stimulating innovation (video below).

“We are in the golden age of our species,” Karsan states. He argues that we already have many solutions for the perceived lack of food, clean water, and energy. According to Karsan, the primary problem for our future is, “Meaningful work is about our choice of who we are,” and the lack of it is going to be the number one risk.

The problem will not be solved by jobs, he continues, “Jobs are getting decimated in an accelerating pace and they are not coming back.”

"We have to break the mental construct that jobs equal work."
“We have to break the mental construct that jobs equal work.”

“No!” Karsan continues firmly. Jobs do not equal work. “Meaningful work has been with us forever and will be with us forever. It is not jobs. Jobs are simply a subset of work.” Jobs have created money for us since they came into our lives at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, 250 years ago. “But work can exist without jobs.”

In this respect, Karsan echos Voltaire, who said in Candide, "Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need."

Karsan also suggests that we have to reconsider how we think of entitlement.

“We need to discard all forms of social programs and replace it with one: Universal Basic Income, which is the individual right for every citizen to unconditionally get an income from the state on a regular basis.”

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs universal basic income

“UBI is not about creating dependence; it is about the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at the lowest level. […] The notion that this entitlement to a UBI makes us smaller and weaker is absolutely untrue”, Karsan states. It is also not a new idea, and the data that came out of Manitoba in the seventies already showed that minimal income had many positive effects.

"Innovation did not start with homeless people."
Karsan even takes it further and states that a UBI is not only something we can afford, but it will also make us greater. “Innovation did not start with homeless people.”

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Karsan encourages the audience to demand a UBI from their leaders, because he is convinced that our species in the golden age can move a lot further and he hopes and dreams that “we may find a way, not only to find meaning in our lives, but meaning in the universe itself.”

Karsan is passionate about creating jobs that matter. He revolutionized the global human resource space over 25 years through the KENEXA organization. He grew it to become one of the world’s most significant HR firms valued at over a billion dollars, and IBM recently acquired KENEXA in a record deal.

The author of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits through Full Engagement, has gone on to found Karlani Capital, an operating fund that aims to “enable the growth and success of ideas that are original, interesting and potentially useful to people.” Actuary, NYTimes bestselling author, family man, uber entrepreneur. Follow him on Twitter @RudyKarsan


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