Lifetime Employment: Imagine a World Without Outplacement
by Outside-In® Team Member, Kelly Hocutt
Earlier this year, a colleague and I went to see Simon Sinek speak in Philadelphia. He is the author of Start with Why & Leaders Eat Last and his first TEDx Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” is the 3rd most viewed video on TED.com.
I had the chance to meet Simon after his talk and he signed my copy of the Leaders Eat Last book, “Inspire someone every single day!” As he was signing, I asked him what his favorite word is and he said “Inspire.” So today, I’d like to inspire you with some thoughts on outplacement, based on a story in Leaders Eat Last called “Fire Your Children” (Chapter 7, page 58). [Simon & I will both meet our quota today!]
Let me summarize the story: The founder of a company called Next Jump, Charlie Kim, made a dramatic change after noticing the annual rising tension as the end of the fiscal year approached. Each year, employees became tense and would fear being let go if the numbers weren’t strong. Inspired by the concept of family and how you can’t exactly fire your children, Mr. Kim made a bold move and implemented a policy of Lifetime Employment. “No one will get fired to balance the books,” Simon informs, “about the only situation in which an employee would be asked to leave is if someone worked outside the company’s high moral values or if someone actively worked to undermine their colleagues.”
Allow the concept of Lifetime Employment to sink in for a few seconds.
What comes to mind first for you? Are you thinking that Charlie is crazy? Did you imagine yourself having an easy, cushy job that is guaranteed for life? Are you wondering what you would do as a manager when you have poor performers or negative personalities on your team? These are some natural first thoughts when pondering this audacious concept.
Mr. Kim explained the positive impacts of this policy, “If a leader was told from here on you cannot fire anyone, but you must still meet consistent growth in revenue and profits, despite market conditions, they would have no choice but to turn to other variables within their control like hiring, training, and development.” People may have doubted or criticized Charlie Kim, but Next Jump saw their average revenue growth jump from 25% per year to 60% after the Lifetime Employment policy was introduced and turnover reduce from 40% down to 1%! Wow.
This story had a profound impact on my mindset about employment. I was laid off from my first job in the recession of 2008. I am also an employee of a company that offers outplacement services. Why would I highlight and encourage a company policy that would essentially put my company out of business?
But just like the people who doubted Mr. Kim, I think you have it all wrong. Barton Career Advisors was founded on the principle of changing everything about the outplacement industry. What we do is coach people through their career decisions. Career decisions don’t HAVE to occur during a career transition. People grow in many ways throughout their career and need coaching to better understand themselves, what they like doing, and how to continue to improve and grow and keep doing things that are of interest to them – even while they are employed. I have to keep a pulse on myself and have made many career decisions during my 4 year tenure at the Outside-In® Companies.
Our Outside-In® President published a blog about the changing workforce and how lifetime employment has died. The business world has become all too comfortable with the safety net of mass layoffs and people are jumping jobs often to protect themselves and their career. Is this a good thing? I love the idea of all of our corporate customers embracing the policy of lifetime employment because that means that they are investing in their people and each individual’s growth. Career coaching is a service that employers can offer from onboarding to exit – it doesn’t have to be through a severance package.
As an Outside-In® Company we strive to change perceptions, educate, and focus on the true needs of our customers. Doesn’t 60% annual growth and 1% turnover sound pretty appealing? It does to me. I hope sharing my thoughts has inspired you to think differently about outplacement and career coaching. Now pass it on like the #icebucketchallenge, who are you going to inspire today?