- Friday, 18 July 2014 08:00
Reid Hoffman changed the way individuals networked and searched for jobs as co-founder of LinkedIn. Now the billionaire venture capitalist has plans for revolutionizing the way employees work.
In his new book “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age” (co-authored with Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh), Hoffman outlines a new employee-employer contract -- one in which employees sign up for "tours of duty." He instituted such a radical policy at LinkedIn; new hires were given a 2-year or 4-year tour of duty and if managers were pleased with their contributions, employees were awarded with another tour of duty, which the company characterized as “career advancement”. "Functionally this is the way the world works already in many industries," says Hoffman in the video above.
Hoffman picked the two-to-four year time frame because "it syncs with a typical product development cycle, allowing an employee to see a major project through." Of course, contract work of this nature does not typically include benefits like stock options, sick days, paid vacation, holiday pay, etc. And does the more frequent adaptation contract workers must make to different company cultures affect productivity both ways? What bank would issue a loan or mortgage to someone who only has a contract for a 2 year tour of duty? Who would even want a mortgage if you only have a 2 year commitment?
He believes this new paradigm builds trust between employees and their bosses and keeps the employee engaged throughout the entire tour; employees direct their attention to discrete tasks and are assigned specific goals. The process allows honest conversations, Hoffman explains, and helps ease employees' concerns over layoffs and instability. How does making any sort of job longevity tenuous at best build trust? Yes, it eliminates the employee fear of layoffs, and replaces it with the likelihood of a layoff. Do most people really want to go job hunting every couple of years?
This is not a new paradigm. This practice simply reinforces what is already happening. It’s a way to avoid long term commitment to rewarding employees with pay per skill/experience level and benefits for any great length of time, so new people can be hired at entry-level wages. In the long run, when you have a growing abundance of people in between jobs their inclination to invest in homes and spend on consumer goods becomes muted; ultimately, it will come back to bite the companies that laid them off .
Employers committed to engaging, fairly compensating, and appreciating the best employees for the long run, are likely to get the most optimum returns in productivity and bottom line results.
STRANGEST JOB INTERVIEWS
“Once I had a guy show up for an interview in flip-flops and shorts, high as a kite. I asked him about a gap on his resume, and he said that during those two years he had been starring in a well-known television show. He had not been.”
“I once had a candidate show up for her interview directly from the pool. She still had on a wet bikini under a super short, strapless romper thing and flip flops. Her hair was still wet. The interview had been scheduled for over a week.”
“I once interviewed a job candidate who said she was interested in the position because she had ‘nothing better to do.’ No, thank you.”
“My friend was conducting an interview one time, and asked the candidate the dreaded, ‘What’s your worst quality?’ question. Answer: ‘I’m kind of unreliable.’”
“I work for a well-known nonprofit so it’s important to us that employees believe in our mission. One interviewee explicitly said she didn’t care about our mission, but she was willing to try to work on it.”
“I was conducting a phone interview and the guy’s tone changes to a slight echo for about 5 or 6 minutes. As he is talking, I hear the toilet flush in the background and 60 seconds later there is no echo.”
“I asked a candidate, ‘Tell me about the biggest challenge that has taken up your time unexpectedly in the last 3 months.’ Her answer: ‘Well, I’ve started breastfeeding, and that can be tough. Sometimes even painful.’