Why Can’t The Workplace Run Like Fantasy Football?

Why Can’t the Workplace Run Like Fantasy Football?

By James Minger, Associate at Gatti & Associate’s sister company, Armstrong Franklin

www.ArmstrongFranklin.com | LinkedIn


So, the pundits have spoken – by 2020, the majority of the U.S. workforce will be free agents.  That’s right, we’ll be a nation of Uber-delivered engineers, scientists, teachers, technicians and customer service reps.  Financial analysts by Task Rabbit.  Neurosurgery by Kelly Services.  Organizations everywhere seem to be embracing and even preparing for this.  Here comes the great talent commoditization wave, where people are simply plug-and-play bundles of skillsets.

Of course, this has been the “hook” for generations of sports statistics buffs – an artificial world, where every situation has been anticipated and ruled on and where every shred of performance can be reduced to a number.  Add a few teraflops of computing power and viola! – Hypothetical teams, playing hypothetical games, with hypothetical outcomes that people are now paying millions of dollars to participate in.

We get the attraction.   Wouldn’t it be great if we could run an entire economy this way?  With the data-fication of everything, isn’t it logical to think that a full-blown workforce-on-demand is right around the corner?  Like most over-the-top prognostications, there is a major dose of truth in all of this, but as usual, the reality will probably be somewhere in the middle.  Great companies will run on a combination of traditional employees, contractors, temps, consultants and free agents of all sorts, but the mix will change pretty dramatically.

The pundits have gotten our attention by radicalizing an old idea.  After all, freelancers have been around forever.  Contractors, Temps and Consultants of various sorts are a major segment of the workforce.  The sports and entertainment industries are built on talent running their own careers.  Movie-makers, studio musicians, sportscasters and quarterbacks all make their livings in a freelance economy.  The reality (and magic) of biotech has been the small drug discovery company, often driven more by aspiration than fact, surrounded by a collaborating community of government-, academic-, industry- and patient-advocates that is 10X its size.

It’s also true that lots of positions are so well-defined that they are very close to being those interchangeable bundles of skill-sets – ever see flight attendants (or pilots!) introduce themselves before a flight?  There’s no need for them to actually know each other in order to work together – the job is completely standardized.  Other jobs can approach that kind of predictability with constant feedback that quickly transforms survey results into credentials – witness Uber drivers evaluating customers evaluating Uber drivers or the software development community at GitHub, an ecosystem where more than 11 million careers thrive on the “street cred” that their work generates.

At the risk of raining on the parade, though, we have to point out that the fallacy in all of this seems pretty obvious.  Even if, as XXXX puts it, corporations are becoming social institutions more than economic ones, they are certainly not going out of style.  Organizations are why one plus one often equals way more than 3.  They hold the world together.  They serve a basic human need – wanting to achieve things together.  There are critically important things that can’t be commoditized – context, mission and motivation among them – that make all the difference.  Perhaps most important of all, and least recognized, is the fact that jobs drift, skills develop as problems are solved and solutions form, and organizations inevitably invest in people – explicitly and inadvertently.  Why would they ever want to throw that investment away by throwing them back into the talent pool?

Successful companies will have to master a more complex, ambiguous and even contradictory set of concepts:

Balancing Abundance & Scarcity.  The challenge will be to know which skill-sets are open-source, relatively abundant and quickly available and which are more context-specific, esoteric and unique to the company’s mission.

Managing Flow & Fit.  In today’s market for talent, flow is easy.  Fit is hard.  A biotech client of ours had 300 jobs to fill last year and had 33,000 applicants.  Google gets more than 2million applicants each year for a few thousand positions, and there’s an entire generation of talented staff, recruiters and managers who have become a bit “LinkedIn lazy.”  They post and pray, troll resumes or apply for (literally) thousands of jobs at a time.  Flow is easy.  Fit is hard.

Understanding Loose & Tight.  There are situations where you can “phone it in,” but we view those as increasingly rare and increasingly sub-optimal.  More often, creativity and innovation comes from the talent “soup” that’s created when a group of really bright people are immersed in the same problem.   Sometimes, this is a very short-cycled process – a complex financial derivatives trade, or a print advertisement.  In others, like drug discovery, it’s a decade-long proposition, with team continuity, unity of purpose and a deep sense of mission being the most important elements.

Managing the “Tribe”.  All organizations are prone to tribal behavior – geographic, cross-functional, or along myriad other dimensions.  In a truly positive and functional culture, employment “status” – as a “regular” employee, contractor, freelancer, consultant or tempcannot distinguish one tribe from another.  In a composite workforce, the only thing that should convey second-class citizenship is performance.

In summary, we expect this particular set of predictions to fall a bit short.  Recruiting great talent will become easier, more data-driven and more standardized in some situations and at the same time become more difficult, more intuitive and more customized in others.  Either way, talent will remain the greatest constraint on, and the greatest opportunity for, the success of organizations everywhere.

Nursing Major, HR Intern: 3 Things I Learned Interning Outside My Major

We all have to face the all too familiar question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” at the most inopportune times. It made me crazy, especially as a high school sophomore. I just got my license! How would I know?!

As I look back now, as a college senior, I realize how different my life could have become while making those early career decisions. Initially, I thought I wanted to study business, but I settled on nursing. After dragging my family on tours and road trips to see business schools I realized (thankfully) that life behind a desk wouldn’t suit my personality. I believe nursing was the right choice for me and I’m very grateful that I realized in time to apply.

While studying abroad in Australia this spring I had difficulty setting up a nursing oriented job for the upcoming summer. Through a family member I learned that an executive search firm close to home was looking for a summer intern. My old curiosity about the business world kicked in and I applied!

Interning at Gatti & Associates this summer has proven to me that:

  1. You’re more capable than you think. I jumped into my summer internship with no previous business experience or education, yet I’m still standing! I knew my way around a computer, understood social media, had decent research skills, and I knew how to act professionally. All of this got me further than I expected. Every new job involves learning. Whether it’s how to navigate the culture of the office or sort lists in a database, every challenge is a new learning opportunity. With patience, perseverance, and hard work, they’re achievable no matter your background.
  1. A job and a career are wildly different. Job experiences are the parts, but your career is a sum of the parts regardless of how diverse those experiences are. Writing style, communications skills, problem solving, and job delivery accumulate into a career. As most people have experienced, jobs come and go as well as change. If you look back at all the jobs you’ve had, that is where your career lies. What steps brought you to where you are today? My job as an intern for an executive search firm will definitely have a positive effect on my career in the future.
  1. Career and education are an ongoing and inter-woven process. Sure, bettering my clinical skills would have been a valuable way to spend my summer, but what I have gained from Gatti & Associates will take me further in the long run. Understanding fundamentals such as “what does human resources means” and “what goes on in day-to-day office life” is something every college student should experience, no matter what they major in.

So my simple advice, with all the wisdom that a college senior and soon-to-be rookie nurse can muster, is to look at every challenge as a learning opportunity. What initially might look like a decent summer job could be something that sticks with you for a very long time.


Written By: Charlotte Ozirsky

The Competing Offer Strikes Back

Many of us began to believe this was gone forever.  The job market has been so tepid, for so long, the concept of having more than one company actively chasing the same talent has almost been forgotten.

Candidates have become accustomed to competing against a large pool of candidates, and employers have become accustomed to using snow shovels to manage mountains of resumes.  One company we’re familiar with had about 300 professional openings last yearins d 32,000 applicants.  Even then, more than 60% of their hires didn’t come from the applicant pool.  Technology now drives resume flow, but it simply doesn m address fit very effectively.  Talent Acquisition teams and external search partners still carry most of the load.

So what’o happened?  Of course, there are the macro unemployment figures.  The national rate for June was down to 5.3%, and in states like Massachusetts, with hot tech- and biotech-markets, itetn states l  However, what we are seeing in our practice tells a much deeper and more nuanced story.

Back to work

As weto work deeper and more nuanced story.  ech- and bioteche applicant poollicanin the mine”. .  Our clients still want great HR leaders who have the capacity to help transform their organizations.  When confidence is back and youclients still want great Hgreat HR people are an early priority.  Now though, more candidates are juggling multiple offers, and companies have to move quickly to close the deal.

Our sister company, Armstrong-Franklin, is seeing the same thing in their supply chain practice, and the signs are even more telling.  Wage rates in India and China are rising unsustainably, and the sheer logistical risk of having product stuck in container ships has been made all too real, particularly at the end of 2014 when the Halloween decorations arrived just in time for Christmas.  Companies are transforming their supply chains, and bringing jobs back to the US.  Managing these transformations requires an exceptional skill-set, and frankly, there isn’t enough to go around.

Hiring the best is still front-and-center

Our advice to clients is very straightforward  focus and speed is very different than haste.

  • Squeeze every ounce of distraction and chaos out of the selection process.
  • Prepare your interviewing teams well and debrief quickly.
  • Know the competitive framework you.

Our advice to candidates is timeless, but even more important as the market heats up.  Simply put, don’t burn bridges.  If there are multiple offers in the mix, be diplomatic and avoid protracted bidding wars.  After all, you’re going to be working a long time with some of these people.

  • Play it straight, keep your recruiter informed, and don’t play games.
  • Give the respectful notice to your soon to be former employer.  Rest assured, your new employer will be watching how you handle this.  Remember, youloyer will be watching how you handle this.  heat up and cool off with absolutely equal frequency.


That’s our view.  We’d love to hear yours.  Visit us at www.gattiHR.com andwww.armstrongfranklin.com