Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Compact

by Aurelie Thiele © Engineered

In what will undoubtedly be one of the most significant Harvard Business Review articles of the year, Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh argue in the June 2013 issue that the time has come for a new compact between employers and employees, which "recognize[s] that jobs are unlikely to be permanent but encourage lasting alliances nonetheless." While the 20th-century compact based on loyalty and lifetime employment is definitely a thing of the past, the current approach, purely transactional, is not satisfactory either.

The authors emphasize the need both for employee and employer to add value to each other: the employee contributes to the company's adaptability and the employer to the employee's employability. They recommend:
  1. Hiring employees for explicit "tours of duty," typically two to four years, with an evaluation at the two-year mark. This is a great idea: it is long enough for the employee to gain as many lessons as he can, including uncomfortable ones about, say, dealing with difficult colleagues instead of quitting and looking for the next opportunity, but not too long that his skills become stale.
  2. Encouraging employees to build networks and expertise outside the organization.
  3. Establishing active alumni networks to maintain career-long relationships. That is yet another outstanding suggestion - every university has an alumni network, and after a few years with the same employer, a specific company can have had far more impact on an employee's expertise and career path than where he went to school as an eighteen-year-old. Corporate alumni networks are not completely new: they were pioneered some time ago by management consulting firms, which often place their own consultants in executive positions at clients and thus had a vested interest in keeping track of them. The practice has grown outside consulting only recently, though, in particular because sites like LinkedIn allow for an easy way for company alumni to stay in touch.
Source: Thiele, A (2013, July 8), Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Compact, Engineered.

Reposted with permission of Engineered

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