Employing The Sports Model of Staffing

Originally published on LinkedIn

Hiring is broken.

The days of cradle to grave employment have disappeared if they ever existed.

Allegedly permanent employees learn pretty quickly what contract and temporary workers already know– that employers will dispose of them if there is financial hardship at the firm or if they blink oddly.

Reid Hoffman, visionary, venture capitalist and LinkedIn founder suggests the notion of a conscious tour of duty as the bedrock of the new employment agreement between employer and employees. He suggests that the two sides enter into an understanding that the employee will work for a firm as long as a project or task needs to be done and then the employer supports the employee in finding another career building tour of duty. Sounds nice and honest. I kind of like it. I just don’t think a lot of non-Silicon Valley firms are sufficiently progressive enough to have what is in effect “an open marriage.”

Sports teams employ a similar model but have refined it.

We will give you a contract to play for us as long as you perform well enough for the salary we pay you. If you don’t produce, we will replace you, trade you or cut you for the roster. our contract at this salary is for a fixed length of time and can be renewed at an agreed to amount or the player can sign with another team.

You may say that there is nothing different in this idea to what Hoffman offers or what currently exists but you’re missing an alternative in there– trading.

Imagine if the firm that laid you off last time was able to trade you to a firm that needed you instead of just fired you.

Imagine when a project is completed, you could be traded to another organization that needed someone with your experience for the balance of your contract.

Would that be better than doing the same tedium?

Imagine if your firm could sell you as part of that deal and help shareholder profitability (and perhaps your 401K or IRA).

Would that one additional alternative be better than being doomed to tedium or fired? Would it be better to go to a new firm that wanted you and would pay them and you for your experience?

I don’t know of firms that engage in this type of practice. Do you?

What do you think?

Share your thoughts.


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