I read an article titled “The New Employer-Employee Compact” that appeared in HBR earlier this year. This article was penned by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh and talks about how companies should change their talent strategies in a rapidly changing business environment where loyalty is now old-fashioned and sometimes not practical. I am summarizing the key takeaways that can be put into practice.
1. Hiring employees for defined “tours of duty.” These tours of duty will entail the employee progressing up from one role to the next at the end of every 2 to 4 year time frame. At the end of a tour of duty, there is an evaluation of performance delivered and the employee gets to advance her career for the next assignment. Apparently, Reid Hoffman set up a four-year tour of duty at LinkedIn for his employees. According to the article, a tour of duty serves as a personalized retention plan that gives a valued employee concrete, compelling reasons to finish her tour and that establishes a clear time frame for discussing the future of the relationship. The key action item that we can derive for rolling out this strategy would be to discuss and agree on a mutually beneficial tour of duty along with outcomes expected for the employer and employee.
2. Encouraging, even subsidizing, the building of employee networks outside the organization. This is a critical strategy for getting access to expertise outside the organization. Invariably, all the smartest people are outside the organization and employees should not be constrained by contractual barriers in building relationships with external experts. The key action item here is to subsidize employee participation in events, and networking activities with an inherent expectation that the employee will leverage such connections for the befit of the organization. One of the techniques the authors recommend for individuals is to maintain an “interesting-person fund” to take people in their networks out to coffee or lunch.
3. Creating active alumni networks that facilitate career-long relationships between employers and former employees. According to the authors, The first thing you should do when a valuable employee tells you he is leaving is try to change his mind. The second is congratulate him on the new job and welcome him to your company’s alumni network. The key action item here would be to look at exit interviews not as a formality, but as an opportunity to gather key information about the employee’s thoughts on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the organization and gather contact information (including social media profiles). Every effort should be made to create strong alumni networks as past employees are favorably inclined (most of them) to help their past employer or even rejoin them if the relationship is maintained.
If you would like to see and hear Reid Hoffman explain the idea in-depth, check out this video.