I recently celebrated my 34th wedding anniversary. Every year as I pull out the wedding album and look at the wedding pictures, I joke about reviewing and renewing the contract. I know that relationships often have a shelf-life. Some may need fine-tuning and adjustments. Some have served their purpose and have expired.
No one really expects a life time of employment with one employer but once employed, people rarely think about leaving unless they are unhappy. And even then – many people wish for a change in manager before thinking about making a change in employer.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggested establishing a ‘Tour of Duty.’ At LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman created an employee-employer compact for a 4-year tour of duty with a review at the 2-year mark. If the dots could be connected to show that the employee had contributed to the organizations profitability, LinkedIn would help advance their career (translation: another tour of duty = maybe in another part of the organization).
The concept of term limits at work is not a new one. We have it for the President of the United States, mayoral positions, Executive Board positions, Congressional Committee Chair potions. But the idea of applying it to the workplace might make some sense.
The employer gets an engaged employee who may work toward tangible results in order to benefit the organization and maintain their employment. The employee gets the potential of continued employ-ability. Both get a taste of what is today’s current reality – lifelong employment is not part of the business landscape. If both sides agree to the terms of when to review and renew, there can be a better understanding of the benefits for each party and an anticipated end.
I often hear from training program participants that while their organization asks them to make a total commitment, the do not get that from their employer in return. The idea behind a tour of duty is that a valued employee has a reason to stay and has a clear time frame for talking about their future with their employer.
There are employers who think that the job itself should serve as the key motivator for employees. That might be true during a recession. However, people who are motivated by a paycheck are often people who don’t have a paycheck. Once a person has obtained employment, their motivational profile will have changed and a good employer changes their approach.
As for the marriage Tour of Duty, we revised some of the minor details and signed up for another tour.