Golf and Politics

How Golf and Politics Provide Valuable Lessons for Today’s Challenging Recruiting Environment

I am not sure how many of you out there are golf fans, nor am I sure about the feelings many of you may have about the current state of our political discourse. I’ve very interested in both, but that’s me. Whether you are interested in them or not, examples in golf and politics demonstrate why recruiting is so hard today in every industry (including legal and law firms) and why it will be for the foreseeable future. Since there is a lot to unpack here, I have split my thoughts into two articles. With that in mind, let’s start with Golf.

Golf’s Lessons for Today’s Recruiting Environment

There has recently been a buzz in the golf world about a rival (some would say ”rebel”) tour that is taking on the well-established tours of the world: the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (European). This new venture was conceived over many years by Greg Norman, a World Golf Hall of Fame Member and winner of two major championships. Norman has been an outspoken critic of both the PGA and DP tours. His vision started with the idea of a tour that would be truly global in focus, but the leaders of the two established tours rejected the idea in favor of their own offerings to address his idea.

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So, what did he do? After many attempts to make it happen, Norman eventually partnered with the Public Investment Fund, a Saudi Government/Royal Family backed fund*. Norman got his funding for the tour and created a vehicle where players would play less, and make more. Sound familiar?

In response to the new tour, the PGA and the DP World Tour said that they would not release players to play in the events sponsored by the breakaway tour. In fact, they would consider suspensions and expulsion from their tours as punishment for playing. Norman and his team must have known that this would happen so they also included sign-on bonuses to attract the best talent he could and soften the blow of being suspended and potentially losing sponsorships in the process. The bonuses for top players were in the hundred million dollar and up range.

What’s interesting about the players he attracted to the Tour, in my opinion, is that they fall into two categories: 1) Older players who were less competitive on the two major tours and, more importantly, 2) Younger players who had yet to establish themselves. They found the new tour to be their preferred option of choice.

Political Lessons for Today’s Recruiting Environment

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It’s always a bit scary to talk about politics and we face many problems today which are heightened by a dysfunctional political discourse. However, for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on the labor shortage, its impact on the economy, and what I feel are completely antiquated views some have of how we got here and how to fix it.

For some context, recent McKinsey research says:

“If this labor shortage continues, there will be rising wages, inflation, and supply chain issues in the short term. In the long term, it could halt GDP growth, induce a recession, and cripple the future expansion of sectors dominated by blue-collar and manual workers.”

Scary, right?

When you hear the terms “blue-collar and manual workers”, you may not make the connection to the knowledge workers we find in legal technology and services companies or law firms.  However, what my 30+ years in talent have taught me is that trends in worker preferences tend to span generational cohorts uniformly regardless of industry. There are always outliers, but tendencies in behavior are driven by the world someone grows up in, not the job they do.

Recently, Senator Mitch McConnell said, “You’ve got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they’re flush for the moment,” He added, “What we’ve got to hope is once they run out of money, they’ll start concluding it’s better to work than not to work.”

While I’m not saying that people’s ideas and feelings about work have not changed, the reasoning here is spectacularly misguided and the assumption that people are “flush” completely misrepresents how most people used the stimulus money during 2020 and 2021.

What Did We Learn by These Two Examples?

So, what do these two examples represent and demonstrate? First, they represent a toxic attitude toward workers and second, and more importantly, they demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the labor shortage and how worker preferences are affecting it.

Understanding why we have a labor shortage and how to be competitive as a company is as critical to your success as the product or service you offer to your clients. While you may be able to get by in the short term by asking more of your current team, this approach only perpetuates the problem, most acutely, through worker burnout.

To compete as an employer today, your goal should be to become the Option of Choice.

In the talent market of today, candidates hold nearly all the leverage. If what you tell them doesn’t line up with their lives or you don’t deliver on promises made during the hiring process, they will leave. The idea that people will continue to work in a job so they don’t hurt their reputation or resume is an idea from a bygone era. While company reputation and stability still matter, they are not the drivers they once were in this hyper-transient job market.

To put a finer point on it, a recent study by Gartner concluded that the nationwide turnover rate could jump by up to 20 percent this year, over previous years, driven largely by changing worker preferences and demands. That’s huge.

Now that you have a sense of the challenges associated with today’s recruiting environment and how attitudes are contributing to those challenges, in the conclusion of this two-part series, I will discuss three fundamental changes employers need to make to address today’s recruiting challenges.

So, what do you think? How is your organization addressing today’s recruiting challenges? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

* – While providing this golf example to illustrate how it relates to the recruitment world today, I recognize the outrage against the Saudi government and the Saudi royal family over the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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