Open any business magazine or newspaper and it is a fair bet that you will find at least two articles that talk about the importance of building a skilled, productive workforce that can drive the long-term economic growth the UK and Europe so desperately needs. Unfortunately the reality on the ground is that too many businesses, both large and small, see people as short-term assets that need to be sweated. Companies give little or no consideration to how best to consistently get the best out of people over the lifecycle of their careers. You only have to go back to the generation that are in their 70s and 80s now and you will find that most of them worked at one or two companies for their entire working life. That is almost unheard of now.
The consequence of companies’ short-term approach is that employees increasingly focus on their own self-interest and seek short cuts to 'making their fortune' by fair means or foul. This in turn leads to the need for greater regulation and oversight which increases costs and stifles innovation.
Sadly this way of thinking and working is proving to be a bad influence on the younger generation who no longer aspire to be great scientists, engineers or entrepreneurs. They simply want fame because they believe it is a short cut to fortune and happiness. At least 3 studies we know of going back to research carried out in 2007 by Yalda T. Uhls and Dr. Patricia Greenfield at the UCLA campus of the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA, which was published in Cyberpsychology, show that the main preoccupation with preteens was how to become famous, many believing this constitutes a realistic career opportunity.
For the few who do actually achieve fame and fortune the pressures are intense, as events such as the recent announcement that Zayn Malik is leaving the biggest selling band on the planet, One Direction (or 1D as they’re known) shows. The pressure put on young stars to constantly perform is immense. In just over four years together, 1D have sold more than 50 million records, achieved a total of 91 number ones and performed live to over 7.5 million fans worldwide. Their fourth album FOUR was released on 17th November 2014 and debuted at #1 in 26 countries including hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with over 387,000 copies sold in one week. Record companies are no different from most other businesses in that they seek to maximise short term profit "while the going is good" with little consideration for the toll it takes on the talent. Record companies don't believe they have a responsibility to plan any sort of long term life and business strategy for their young stars.
Wouldn’t it be great to imagine a world where record companies, and indeed all organisations who ‘sweat their talent’ and often end up paying £billions in fines to regulators, are instead investing in building long-term and rewarding careers for their workforce? We call them employee value propositions and we see their positive impact every day in those organisations that take the time and effort to get them right.