How would offering lifetime employment to your employees change your organization? Ask almost any HR professional and they would tell you that employee terminations or layoffs are the hardest and most heart-wrenching parts of the job. However, the traditional employment model touts them as a necessary evil. One e-commerce company, Next Jump, is taking a different approach, promising to never fire and offering additional training if a performance issue arises.
In a recent TED Talk, "Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe," author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek used family structure as a way of understanding this sort of approach. "A company is a modern-day tribe. Hiring someone for your company is akin to having a child," he says. "If you have hard times in your family, would you ever consider laying off one of your children? We would never do it. Then why do we consider laying off people inside our organizations?" At Next Jump and other organizations that have found alternatives to firing, Sinek describes how this form of leadership creates a workplace where people feel connected, personally and emotionally.
According to Jay Forte, author and certified workplace coach, this is an extremely valuable quality for organizations to develop. "We are in an intellectual workplace where our performance is the best when we are intellectually, personally and emotionally connected to work," he says. Forte describes these three fundamental connections in a high performing workplace:
- Intellectual: Employees have the abilities and talents to perform the role – they are capable and competent.
- Emotional: They are in roles that inspire them; they feel like they make a difference and are motivated by the work.
- Personal: They experience trust, respect, and meaningful relationships with their teams and managers.
"Engagement happens when employees see something to commit to," Forte says. A company that commits to employees' futures shows them that they're more than just cogs in the wheel. Forte explains, "This type of leader wants more for their employees than for their customers because they know that an employee-focused workplace will create employees committed to do extraordinary things for their customers."
When it comes to hiring as well, organizations that commit to never firing are forced to hire slowly and very deliberately. Forte says this type of hiring model (whether or not you choose to offer lifetime employment) is something all companies should consider. "When we choose wisely about who we bring into our organizations, we need to be aware we are making a lifetime decision," he says. "Not everyone fits in the organization. Therefore, choosing wisely initially is critical. Once chosen, it is right to think that employees will spend all of their career with the organization – this completely changes how we think about our people."