Shell Oil tries to recruit Tom Brady

I just got Shell Oil to figure out how to sign up an athletic star such as Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots - without a signing bonus or other offer of money!

When I took this challenge last week to 50 executives at Shell, as well as their newest employees, I split the group in two.

  • The first group had to act as the general manager of a professional sports team and recruit a "Tom Brady" (right).
  • The second group had to attract doctors to serve 5,000 new employees arriving in the next year to start a plant expansion.

Both groups had only three minutes to find a way to snag these hot shots for their pretend organizations!

In the recruitment of a superstar athlete, the top three ideas were:

1. Find out who will be playing with him? What are the team's goals (short and long-term)?

2. Take the star player on a tour of your city, pointing out housing and schools, introducing him to the media and business contacts that would help his career.

3. Guarantee superlative athletic training, medical care and easy access to state-of-the-art medical facilities.

In the hunt for doctors, the top three ideas were: 

1. Offer the best location (city/town) and the best orientation of that location, i.e. what are the housing, schools, rec facilities, etc.

2. Guarantee training facilities in nearby hospitals (and in a teaching hospital, if one is close).

3. Assure investment in the latest high-tech equipment pertaining to their medical specialty at those hospitals.

I was struck by the fact that both recruiting groups shared common principles in their non-monetary incentives, which were:

  • Communication
  • Training
  • Orientation

Think outside the paycheck, I tell future 'free agents' of the working world

Treat your prospective employees no differently than that quarterback or specialist physician! The size of their paycheck and benefits package is not the only way to draw in the best and brightest talent to your workforce!

When I speak to thousands of high school and college students each year - really, the future "free agents" of the labor market - I  urge them to expect to be wooed with the best possible non-monetary incentives by contender employers.

I teach these young workers - tomorrow's employers as well as employees - to ask, before the job begins, "Do you offer orientation, training and open communication?" If the potential employer doesn't measure up in those areas, it's time to move on - to the next, better offer of a job... one that keeps you safe and healthy on the job!

Basically, what I tell corporations like Shell Oil last week, as well as students, is: Workers must be treated with the exact same respect as you would grant doctors or sports heroes. Anything less than that and the organization deserves to lose the brightest and best!

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