In professional football, contracts for players regularly include something called a buy-out clause: the parties agree to a predetermined fee and if another club makes an offer that meets this valuation, the player is free to sign a deal with the buying club.
The most recent example involved England star Jack Grealish last summer, when Manchester City paid Aston Villa £100 million for his transfer, a record-breaking fee for an English footballer and the number written beside the buy-out clause in his contract.
There will be business leaders reading this who think that a similar practice could benefit their organisations. Covid-19 has forced many employees to re-evaluate their priorities, the kind of company and workplace they want to work in, and what they want from a job. A survey by recruitment firm Ramstad UK in November found that almost a quarter of workers were planning to change jobs in the next few months – part of a trend that has recently been dubbed ‘the Great Resignation’.
Even before the pandemic, however, a power shift from the employer to employees had been gaining momentum. But, while giving employees more freedom, choice and control is undoubtedly a good thing – improving individuals’ productivity and the broader company’s performance in the long term – it can also feel like a one-way street when it comes to attracting, training, and retaining talent. A business spends years investing time and money into junior staff members’ development only for those junior staff to turn around one day and announce, with regret, that they are leaving for a competitor.
Professional services firms have begun to combat this by creating deals with workers whereby if an employee leaves within a certain period, they must pay for the cost of the training they received. Taking this further, then, maybe we’ll see new contracts akin to those created by football clubs. In exchange for a signing-on fee and an agreed progression structure, the worker agrees to remain in the organisation’s employ for a defined period and if they leave during this time, the receiving employer must pay a transfer fee.
The game has changed and so must organisations if they are going to hang on to their best people and attract the talent they need for the future.